Raith boss still on hunt for new faces

Rory McKeown in action for Cowdenbeath last season, challenges Grant Anderson, who has yet to agree a new deal with Raith
Rory McKeown in action for Cowdenbeath last season, challenges Grant Anderson, who has yet to agree a new deal with Raith

Raith Rovers manager Grant Murray confirmed he is still on the hunt for new faces as the squad reported for the start of pre-season training this week.

The players are currently being put through rigorous work-outs at the club’s dedicated training base at the Michael Woods Sports Complex in Glenrothes.

Among them were new arrivals Mark Stewart and Rory McKeown, who were signed by the Kirkcaldy club on Monday.

Stewart (26), is a striker who has previously played for Falkirk, Dundee and Bradford, although he finished last season in Ireland with Derry City.

McKeown, a 21-year-old left back, arrives from Kilmarnock having made 40 appearances in the Premiership.

He spent the second half of last season on loan at Cowdenbeath, and scored in their 2-1 at Stark’s Park in April.

“I’ve watched Rory playing for Kilmarnock and Cowdenbeath and knew he was a very good player with a good pedigree,” Murray said.

“He came through the ranks at Ipswich as a young boy and has played a lot of games for Killie in the top flight.

“He did very well at Cowdenbeath and managed to get on the scoresheet against us.

“We had a left back in place last season on a loan deal so we knew it was a position that we’d need to fill.

“Rory is very similar to Callum Booth in that he’s a fit young lad who likes to get forward, but who can also defend the back post.”

On the capture of Stewart, Murray added: “He’s a player who has been made available to us before, and one we’ve had our eye on.

“I know him from playing against him but he was also a young boy at Partick Thistle when I was there.

“He is a very direct, quick forward player. He likes to play on both wings or up front so he’s versatile.

“He’ll bring a different dimension to the team - plus he can score goals.”

With other new signings Craig Barr, Martin Scott, Christian Nade also on board, Murray is pleased with his transfer dealings thus far - but insists he’s not finished yet.

“We’re reasonable in terms of squad strength at the moment but I’d still like to add another one or two players,” he said.

One player Murray remains hopeful of signing is Grant Anderson, who is training with the club, but has yet to put pen to paper.

“There’s a couple of things to deal with, but we’re still very hopeful that Grant will sign,” Murray said. “He’s been fantastic in the two years he’s been with the club.

“He’s a good modern day footballer - a good athlete and he looks after himself.”

Greig Spence however has turned down the offer of a contract extension to rejoin his former club Alloa Athletic.

“I spoke to Greig a while ago, and he had a football decision to make,” Murray explained.

“We wanted him to be part of our squad - I enjoyed working with him - but he felt he would get more game time by moving on.”

There were suggestions that Rovers were due compensation from Alloa for Spence since he is still under the age of 24 and rejected a new contract offer.

Raith chief executive Eric Drysdale explained that the club has reached an ‘amicable’ agreement with the Wasps over the issue.

He stated: “The rules are complicated.

“There’s SPFL rules and SFA rules - and the two sets are not entirely synchronised.

“It’s a complex area but discussions with Alloa have been very amicable.

“There has been a resolution with no dispute at all, but it will remain confidential.

“An offer was made to Greig way back at the end of the season.

“He’s spoken to his advisors and been talking to other clubs.

“He’s keen to get regular games - it’s understandable if that’s what motivated him to go to Alloa.

“We wish him well at his new club.”

After the recent flurry of signing activity Drysdale confirmed he expects to further new faces before the start of next season.

“There are still finishing touches to be put to the squad so between now and the start of the season there is likely to be more signing activity,” he said. “There’s nothing imminent at the moment but discussions are on-going.”