Squad starts to take shape

Barry Smith is pleased that defender Jonathan Page has commited to the club.
Barry Smith is pleased that defender Jonathan Page has commited to the club.

It’s still early days in East Fife’s pre-season, but boss Barry Smith is pleased with the core of the squad he’s already put together.

With club captain Kevin Smith committed, along with vice captain Jonathan Page, Chris Kane and Pat Slattery, the Fifers were set to add even more key names to that list as we were going to press.

On Monday evening the Fifer announced that Chris Duggan, Ryan Goodfellow and Ben Reilly had agreed terms.

A familiar face had also agreed to return, with former Fifer Paul Willis set to join up.

The standard of player returning to the club sets down a marker ahead of next season, with Smith content with the business already done.

He said: “Jonathan Page is a big player for us.

“When Kevin Smith isn’t playing he’s the captain so it’s important to us that we kept a guy with his experience.

“There was interest in him from other clubs so we’re delighted he’s staying with us.

“He was in the league’s team of the year so that shows as well that other teams recognise how important he is to East Fife.”

Fife fans are understandably delighted with the two year deal given to Page.

But Duggan’s commitment was equally as welcomed on social media.

The striker missed a massive part of the previous campaign, but certainly made an impact when he returned after his long term lay-off.

And Smith reckons there’s even more to come from the former Queen’s Park striker.

“Chris Duggan is a player who I don’t think we’ve seen the best of yet,” said the Fife boss.

“He did really well when he came back from injury but we can still get more out of him.

“He’s one of the best strikers in the division.”

Willis signed for the Methil men back in 2012 before spending a couple of seasons at the club.

He left for Berwick Rangers in 2014 and more recently came up against East Fife in Albion Rovers colours last season.

Smith reckons he certainly has something to add to the squad he’s beginning to mould.

“I’ve been impressed with Paul Willis every time I’ve seen him,” said the Bayview boss.

“He’s a player I like and I know the East Fife fans liked him when he was last here.”

Another player who’ll remain in the black and gold next season is Kyle Wilkie.

Wilkie also had a torrid time with injury last season, missing the bulk of the final half.

But Smith is keen to get the winger up and running again when the new League One campaign kicks off.

“Kyle has another year to go on his contract and I’m delighted about that,” said the boss.

“When I first came in he did very well and I know he can be a big player for us.”

Tony Wallace is another who struggled with long term injury with Smith confirming the midfielder has been offered the opportunity to return for pre-season training.

The hunt to add to the squad will continue for the gaffer over the coming weeks.

“It’s not easy to bring in players,” he said.

“A lot of clubs are going after the same guys and sometimes deals break down.

“But I’m happy with the core we already have.”