break gave us time to heal

East Fife's Pat Slattery will lock horns with Queen's Park again on Saturday.
East Fife's Pat Slattery will lock horns with Queen's Park again on Saturday.

Saturday’s international break really was a blessing in disguise for East Fife.

The Methil men started last week carrying a few niggling injuries and had to postpone a scheduled friendly with Hearts.

But as the week went on things got worse, with Paul McManus, Tony Wallace and Kyle Wilkie all developing various illnesses.

Had the Fifers been due to play a competitive game on Saturday, boss Gary Naysmith admits they would really have been down to the bare bones.

He said: “We were struggling with the amount of players we had available.

“Mark Lamont and Scott Mercer had picked up knocks in the game before and Kevin Smith, Jonathan Page and Chris Kane have all had injuries too.

“Paul McManus then got shingles, Tony Wallace tonsillitis and Kyle Wilkie was sick, so if we had a league game on Saturday then they would have been unavailable.

“We maybe would have had 11 fit players.

“We didn’t take the decision to cancel the Hearts game lightly because I don’t like us going for a spell without having played a game.

“I’m already looking at November 12 (when scheduled opponents Alloa will play in the Irn-Bru cup) to get a friendly arranged for then.”

Luckily for the Fifers, with Scotland playing international football and Irn-Bru Cup games scheduled it gave the manager the opportunity to tell his players just to take a break from Bayview.

It allowed the niggling knocks a chance to heal and for others to get over illness.

“We gave the lads three or four days off,” said the boss.

“What that means is that now only Chris Duggan, Ross Mutch and Paul McManus will be missing from training and we’ll have Kevin O’Hara, Mark Hurst (who had been with Scotland’s under 19s and 21s respectively) and Jason Kerr back with us.”

The Fifers are now gearing up for the weekend and a trip to the National Stadium to face Queen’s Park.

Gus MacPherson’s side are on a bad run, having lost their last four league games on the bounce.

At the weekend they made their exit from the Irn-Bru Cup when they were beaten 2-1 by Dunfermline at East End Park.

They’re a side East Fife know well, having been promoted along with them from League Two last season.

Naysmith said: “I watched them on Saturday against Dunfermline.

“They signed a few new players from the juniors who I hadn’t seen yet so I wanted to make sure I had before Saturday.

“They changed their formation a bit as well to more of a 4-1-4-1.

“One thing you always know from Gus MacPherson’s teams is that they’re always going to be really well organised and I’d say that, since I took over as manager, they’re probably the only team which has been able to better of us.”

Chris Duggan remains on the sidelines for East Fife while striker Jordan Austin has been loaned to St Andrews United in the East Region Premier League.

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