Defiant Raith hold onto the Baird necessities

3111061 SSFF montrose raith 'John Baird applauds the fans after scoring - Raith Rovers against Montrose FC at Links Park, Montrose in the Scottish Communities League Cup
3111061 SSFF montrose raith 'John Baird applauds the fans after scoring - Raith Rovers against Montrose FC at Links Park, Montrose in the Scottish Communities League Cup
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RAITH Rovers fans breathed a collective sigh of relief last week when derby rivals Dunfermline failed in a transfer deadline day swoop for John Baird.

The newly-promoted SPL side had several offers for Raith’s star striker last Wednesday, including cash plus player exchange, all rejected by the Rovers board.

SportsPress understands that the Pars even made attempts to sign Baird on loan after the window closed, however a Rovers’ spokesman described the offers put on the table as “derisory”.

Rich form

Raith boss John McGlynn was glad to hold onto a player who has started the season in the same rich form that won him last season’s SPFA First Division Player of the Year award.

“It was very important we kept John because it would have been difficult to replace him at such late notice,” he said.

“We were never in a situation where we had the money to have someone on stand-by ready to come in. You would have been left trying to get someone without a club, or someone on loan.

“We only have three strikers at the club, so we’ve not got players to slot into John’s place. We’ve got one or two others who can play up front at a push, but I wouldn’t suggest for the rest of the season.”

Baird had been the subject of summer speculation after expressing a desire to play in the SPL, however he looks certain to remain a Raith player until January at least.

Distracting

“I’m sure it’s a wee bit unsettling,” McGlynn added. “It’s always nice to feel wanted, but sometimes it can be distracting as well.

“John has handled the situation really well up to now, coming back in preseason getting his head down and working hard – and it’s shown in his performances up until August 31.

“He played in the 3-1 reserve win against Partick on Thursday and performed very well. I’m sure he will continue to do his absolute utmost for Raith Rovers.”

Baird has been key to Rovers goal-scoring hopes this season.

“He’s scored five goals, but he’s turned into a bit of a provider as well,” McGlynn said. “He set up our goals against Ayr and Morton.

“He has the wee bit of greed about him that strikers need, but he also recognises when the pass is on.

“He’s been key in most of the goals that we’ve scored.”

Meanwhile, after ending Dundee’s unbeaten run at 23 games last season, Rovers welcome a Dark Blues side struggling for form on Saturday.

Barry Smith’s pre-season title favourites have collected only four points from their opening four games, and currently sit second bottom in the table.

However, Raith boss John McGlynn warned that the Dens Park men will provide a stern test as the action returns to Stark’s Park after the international break.

“We do expect a tough game,” he stressed. “I imagine Dundee hoped they’d have more points on board at this stage, but there’s a long way to go so there’s no reason to panic there.

“It would be a big game to claim three points from, and it would help us stay up there near the top of the table.

“It’s already looking like the type of league where there’s nothing between top and bottom, so the longer we stay up top the better.”

Raith’s only injury concern is with Iain Davidson who has yet to feature since limping off in the opening day win over Falkirk with knee ligament damage.

“The game is going to come too early for him,” McGlynn said. “He’s not joined in full training with the squad yet. He’s not far away, but he’ll need a good week before he becomes available.”

After back-to-back defeats to Ayr and Airdrie, Rovers warmed up for the return to competitive action with reserve wins over Dunfermline and Partick in matches that featured most first team players.