Squad rebuilding starts for new Raith boss

Stark's Park - Kirkcaldy - Fife - 
new Raith manager BARRY SMITH - 
credit- Fife Photo Agency
Stark's Park - Kirkcaldy - Fife - new Raith manager BARRY SMITH - credit- Fife Photo Agency

Barry Smith is wasting no time settling into his new job as Raith Rovers manager after revealing that he already has signing targets in mind for the club’s assault on League One.

Smith officially joined the club on Tuesday, signing a two-year contract after moving from East Fife, and his first few days in charge have been spent speaking to players from last season’s squad, as well as potential fresh faces.

Smith already has a nucleus of a squad in place with Kevin Cuthbert, Kyle Benedictus, Ross Matthews, Ross Callachan, Bobby Barr, Mark Stewart and Lewis Vaughan all tied down until the summer of 2018.

A number of last season’s out of contract players are also in talks as the manager faces a race against time to fill in the blanks ahead of the start of pre-season training, which is now less than three weeks away.

“There are seven, or nine, players signed, so we need get a squad assembled ready for pre-season training,” he said.

“It’s a massive plus for me that I know the league and the players that are in it. I also know the players that I’d like to bring here.

“To get out of this league you need a certain calibre of player that knows the division as well, so we’ll try to get that right blend.

“But there is a good nucleus of players that are still here, and that are under contract, so if we add to that, everything should go in a positive direction.”

Raith spoke to numerous respected football figures during the process of appointing Smith and were told to expect one of the hardest workers in Scottish football.

“I’m a worker and that’s the one thing the fans and players will get to know – I work hard in whatever job I do and this will be no different,” Smith said.

“We’ll have to work hard to make sure we’re up there challenging for promotion, because it is a tough league.

“But the squad I’ve inherited and the players still under contract, added to with some quality as well, we should be in the right place.

“I’ve worked full-time, and part-time, and we’re in a full-time, part-time league so I know both sides of it.

“I’ll look to use the experience I’ve gained from all that and put it towards Raith Rovers having a succesful season.”

Raith have made it clear that there will be more ephmasis on youth next season, and Smith is looking forward to working with Craig Easton to help forge closer links between the development squad and the first team.

“I know Craig Easton’s done a great job,” Smith said. “I watched them at the tail end of last season and there’s a lot of players that have potential, but it’s up to them to fulfil that potential.

“If they are good enough they are old enough but it’s a case of coming in, seeing them on a daily basis, and seeing what I can get out of them.

“Craig’s done an excellent job up till now and will continue to do so, but they have to be of a quality that I think can come into the first team.”

Smith has not yet appointed a number two but suggested that his backroom staff will include players from the first team squad.

“We’re still talking to a few, but it will probably be a player-coach, or player coaches, just because of the way I want to work things,” he said.