Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 7th Sep 2017

07/09/17: AJ - "The players are playing with a lot of confidence at the moment so we are looking forward to every game."

Manager Allan Johnston is looking forward to the trip to Greenock on Saturday. He told the media:-

"It is an important month for us. There are a lot of hard games playing against the top teams, we have to raise our level again but the players are capable of that.

"The players are playing with a lot of confidence at the moment so we are looking forward to every game. You can see with even the Buckie result, with all the changes we made, if anybody is missing out we can quite easily put someone else in. You need to make sure that you are playing at a good level to stay in the team."

After making eight changes to the starting eleven at Victoria Park last Saturday the gaffer was delighted with the good performances all round in the Irn-Bru Cup tie:-

"That is what you need as a manager. You want competition for places , you want to be put under pressure with boys saying `I have been playing well, I want my chance` and that obviously puts the boys that are playing under pressure as well. They need to perform week in week out to make sure that they stay in the team."

One of the players who certainly put a marker down was Aaron Splaine (pictured above) who came in and made a big contribution. That was not missed by his manager who agreed:-

"He did not play a lot of football last year, he is still a young lad who is desperate to play. You can see even in training he is improving week in week out. It will not be long before he is forcing his way into the team.

"I don`t think you could pick any faults in last week`s team. It is a hard place to go, we saw that last year. It ended up 5-3 and we made hard work of it and it was a really difficult game. I thought it was a really professional performance and we looked as though we could have scored more goals. We were really comfortable and it sets up for this weekend."

After taking the places of Declan McManus and Callum Smith, Nicky Clark scored two and co-striker Andy Ryan one as the Pars won at Buckie. AJ is delighted that all his strikers were scoring regularly.

"It was great to see young Callum Smith going away with Scotland (under 19s) and scoring two. He was a bit disappointed that he did not play in the next game, he was on the bench after scoring two which is a bit of a shock. It is great for him to be involved."

Both Pars players in the Under 19 squad - Callum and Stuart Morrison - came back full of it and Allan described them both as "flying".

"It is good for the club when you are getting young guys like that coming through, doing well, pushing for a place in the first team, getting that bit of recognition.

"Players at Rangers and Celtic are probably the ones who get picked first but there are good players outwith the Old Firm as well. That is how it is good to see our boys getting a shout and coming in and taking their chance as well."

Callum Smith has started all four of the Pars` Championship matches this season and his boss stressed that was the benefit of playing at a club like Dunfermline:-

"You are going to get a chance whereas if you are maybe playing at some of the bigger clubs your chances are going to be limited. You can come here, play first team football and I think that is the only way that young guys progress - playing first team football rather than in Under 20s."

Turning to Saturday`s fixture, the manager claimed that Dunfermline know all about them:-

"We played them numerous times last season. They are a hard team to beat, they have a lot of pace upfront and obviously they score from setpieces. Thomas O`Ware scored 11 goals last season and that is incredible for a centre half. We are going to have to defend well.

"We have to approach the game the same as any other one and go and try and win the game. It doesn`t matter if it is home or away, we set up to try and win and we will have to play really well to do that."

The manager claimed that matches in the Championship cannot be approached with a view to keeping it tight initially:-

"You have to try and win every game in this league. Three points are massive in this league, I think there will be a lot of draws this year just because some many teams are really similar. There is not much between all the teams so it is important to go out there and try and win as many games as possible."

One match that everyone will want success in is the Irn Bru Cup tie away to Falkirk next month. The manager was asked to comment on the draw:-

"It is good for the fans but sometimes you like a wee bit of freshness to play teams outwith your own division. I suppose if you are going to get somebody from your own division, Falkirk is a good one just because of the atmosphere and everything that surrounds the game. I`m sure it is one that we are all looking forward to."

As far as availability is concerned David Hopkirk is fit again and there are no injuries from the trip to the Moray Firth.

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