Hard work starts now for Fifers

East Fife return to pre-season action on July 2.
East Fife return to pre-season action on July 2.

Preparations for East Fife’s 2016/17 league and cup campaigns are officially underway as the squad returned to training this week.

On Tuesday several squad players and a few trialists were back at it as the hard work is put in before the big kick off.

With the League Cup starting in the middle of July, the competitive stuff is just around the corner, and boss Gary Naysmith is still working hard to make sure his side is ready for the arrival of Dundee in the first round.

The manager said: “We’ll have eight or nine of our own players back on Tuesday and Thursday with three or four trialists.

“Some of the lads are still on holiday but on Saturday everybody will be back in.”

The Fifers came on strong towards the end of last season as they marched towards the League Two title, with several of the first team putting that down to the fitness and preparation work done during 2015/16 pre-season.

And it’ll be more of the same this summer, as Naysmith aims to make sure his side is at peak condition for its crack at League One.

“The first four or five sessions will be very similar to what we did last season before the cup games which come a lot quicker,” said the boss.

“Our pre-season helped us towards the end of last season and we also avoided injuries.

“We have players who have been here for two or three years now so they’ll come back knowing what to expect.

“At part time level, if we can be fitter and better organised than the others, then that will go a long way to helping us achieve what we want to.”

The manager also reckons East Fife’s Betfred Cup draw has several positives for the club.

The Methil men were drawn in a group with Dundee, Peterhead, Dumbarton and Forfar Athletic.

The way the fixtures landed has been kind to the Fifers, with a plum home tie with Dundee to kick off the competition at Bayview on July 16.

East Fife also avoided an away trip to Peterhead.

Naysmith says there’s a lot to look forward to in this season’s event.

“When the draw’s made the one thing you don’t want is a long, away trip,” said the boss.

“But playing Dumbarton and Forfar, you’re back in the house for 11.30pm or 12 so that’s not bad.

“I was speaking with the chairman as well and we’re expecting Dundee to bring around 1000 fans with them so that’s going to be a good game for us.”

Another plus, the manager said, is that dates of other fixtures have presented the Fifers with the chance to scout League One opponents on days they have no scheduled game.

East Fife’s final group game is on Tuesday, July 26 away to Forfar.

“That leaves us without a game on the 30th so we’ve a friendly arranged for that weekend with Cowdenbeath,” said the boss.

“We have three friendlies and four cup games from July 2 which is a lot but I don’t want us going into the start of the league without having played.

“Last season we had a bit of a break between games and then played Queen’s Park and Clyde and were terrible so I wanted something set up.”

The Fifers are also waiting to learn who they’ll play in the restructured Irn-Bru Cup.

The new cup competition has been given some extra fizz for the forthcoming season with the introduction of two teams each from the Welsh Premier League and Northern Ireland Football League with teams from the Highland and Lowland Leagues (four each) and all Ladbrokes Premiership under 20 teams (12) also joining.

The gaffer will lose on-loan St Johnstone defender Jason Kerr who’ll play for his parent club.