Raith aim to shut out the champions

Christian Nade, pictured during a sub appearance at Ibrox on Sunday, is nursing an injury. Pic:  Fife Photo Agency -

Christian Nade, pictured during a sub appearance at Ibrox on Sunday, is nursing an injury. Pic: Fife Photo Agency -

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Raith Rovers manager Grant Murray wants his players to bounce back from losing four goals at Ibrox with a clean sheet against the league champions at Tynecastle this Saturday.

No visiting Championship side has managed to prevent Hearts from scoring on home soil this season - they recently put 10 past Cowdenbeath - although Rovers restricted them to a 1-0 win back in November.

“We need to keep it tight early - we didn’t do that on Sunday and that’s when it becomes very difficult.”

Now Murray wants his team to break Hearts scoring record with a shut-out, although to do this, drastic improvements must be made from the Rangers performance on Sunday.

“We conceded four goals, albeit to an in-form Rangers side, so we want to make amends for that,” Murray said.

“We don’t want to lose any goals on Saturday, so we need to tidy up the performance all round - not just in defence.

“We need to keep it tight early - we didn’t do that on Sunday and that’s when it becomes very difficult.

“Hearts have been fantastic this season in getting the league wrapped up so we know we’re in for a tough game.”

Liam Fox and Ross Callachan will return to the Raith squad after suspension, while Rangers loanee Barrie McKay is also available again after missing out against his parent club. Fox returns after a two-game ban following his red card against Falkirk and Murray admitted that the 31-year-old was missed in the defeats to Cowdenbeath and Rangers.

“He has been fantastic for us in recent weeks,” Murray said. “He’s an experienced player who knows the league and doesn’t always get the credit he deserves.

“He organises things in there, and when we’ve had good results and performances, more often than not he’s been there or thereabouts.”

Raith will travel to Tynecastle with a full squad although Murray revealed that striker Christian Nade is nursing an ongoing injury problem.

“Christian would be delighted to play in every game but he’s carrying a slight knock at the moment which makes it difficult,” he said.

“We’ve never had a Championship season as intense as this before with the likes of Hearts, Hibs and Rangers all involved so when you get to this point in the season, you have to ease players through a lot of gruelling games.”

With promotion and relegation no longer a possibility, and just three games of the season left, talks are now beginning to take place between the club and out of contract players, with at least two already close to putting pen to paper.

Rovers could face a fight, however, to hold onto Callachan with the bright young midfielder believed to be attracting interest from other SPFL clubs.

Callachan, who came through the youth system at Stark’s Park, started the season on the bench but has emerged as a key player since breaking into the first team in early December.

Since then, the 21-year-old has made 19 consecutive starts, a run which only came to an end in Sunday’s 4-0 defeat at Ibrox, which he missed due to suspension after picking up six bookings.

Callachan’s contract expires in May and Raith have offered improved terms, but they are likely to face competition for his signature, with Ross County rumoured to be showing interest.

There was some encouragement for Raith on the youth front in midweek when a young development side featuring players from the Fife Elite Academy thrashed Stenhousemuir 7-2 with Jonny Court and Calum Robertson each netting a hat-trick.