THE UPCOMING league games are more important than the glamour cup tie against Celtic.
That was the message from the Raith Rovers dressing room this week as the club gears up for an exciting run of fixtures.
The live televised Scottish Cup fifth round tie next Sunday is sandwiched between two tough first division games - a trip to Greenock to face league leaders Morton this Saturday, and a home game against title hopefuls, Partick Thistle, on February 9.
But while the Celtic game is the talk of the town, and is heading towards a complete sell-out, Raith defender Eddie Malone only has one thought in mind, and that is picking up league points after a run of just one win in the last nine games.
“None of the players have really spoken about the Celtic game yet,” he said.
“Morton is the bigger game for us, the Celtic game is just a bonus and it helps the club get a bit of cash.
“We’ve hit a bit of a sticky patch, but we’re confident we can go on a good run again, like we did at the start of the season.
“A couple of wins and we’ll shoot back up the league again.”
Raith boss Grant Murray does not expect the Celtic game to be a distraction for his players at Cappielow this Saturday.
“Players don’t run about a football pitch thinking about the following week,” he said.
“It might be in the back of their minds, but the only thing they’ll be focusing on come three o’clock on Saturday is beating Morton.
“I don’t expect them to be playing for their places just because we’re playing Celtic the following week.
“They should be playing to keep their place in the team every week. That’s something I’ve never had to question.”
Raith lost 1-0 on their previous visit to Cappielow and conceded a late goal to draw 3-3 with Morton at Stark’s Park in December.
Murray added: “It’s a hard place to go but we played there earlier in the season and there wasn’t much in it.
“They are used to winning, but we have confidence that we can go there and get a result.”
On-loan Hearts winger David Smith could play his last game for the club this Saturday as his loan spell runs out following the match.
Murray added: “If we can get him for longer, we’ll take him, but if we can’t, that’s why we’ve got a squad.”
It will be one in, one out for the trip to Cappielow as Simon Mensing returns from suspension, but Dougie Hill misses out following his red card against Hamilton.
Meanwhile, a very small number of home tickets are still available for the Scottish Cup match against Celtic next Sunday (February 3). They can be bought from ACA Sports, Stark’s Park or online from Livesport.co.uk.
There are also limited spaces left for pre-match hospitality at the Victoria Hotel costing £60 per person. Bookings can be made by calling Laura Jarvis on (01592) 263514 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.