Down to the bare bones

Kevin Smith tries his luck with a first half free-kick. Picture by G McLuskie.
Kevin Smith tries his luck with a first half free-kick. Picture by G McLuskie.

East Fife’s fans could be forgiven for thinking it never rains but it pours down Bayview way at the moment.

With the Fifers sitting pretty in second place in League Two, and with their name still in the hat for round three of the Scottish Cup, the side has developed an injury list which would make any club in the country balk.

Having decided to run with a small squad packed with more than enough quality to escape the league, manager Gary Naysmith continues to be smacked time after time by injuries to key players.

Former captain Stevie Campbell is still some way short of a return from long term injury; Kevin Smith picked up a knock on Saturday; Pat Slattery needs an injection and Craig Murray suffered a knee injury in training ahead of the weekend’s 0-0 draw with Stirling Albion.

Add to that the news that on-loan St Johnstone defender Jason Kerr may have to be left out of Tuesday’s Scottish Cup replay at Forthbank due to a commitment with his parent club, and the Bayview gaffer certainly doesn’t have his troubles to seek.

“There’s no hiding it, we’re down to the bare bones,” said Naysmith.

“Stevie Campbell is back training soon but he hasn’t played for five months so we have to be responsible, as a club, with how we bring him back.

“We need to get Pat his injection this week which is going to rule him out for 10 days and we’ll be monitoring Kevin Smith.

“He’s another one who we won’t rush back and then risk possibly missing him for Tuesday night and then the following Saturday.

“Allan Walker is unavailable and Joe McGovern has had to go back to Northern Ireland for family reasons.

“St Johnstone also have a big youth game on Sunday so can we really expect Jason Kerr to play on Saturday, Sunday and then Tuesday?”

Despite their shortage of numbers, East Fife probably did enough to merit a solo place in the draw for the Scottish Cup’s third round.

Instead they’ll be drawn out along with Stirling Albion after the pair couldn’t be separated at Bayview.

“I thought we played well,” said the Bayview boss.

“In the first half we were the better team and had three or four really clear cut chances throughout the game.”

This weekend the Methil men will again be looking to create plenty of chances and will be hoping, this time, they’re put away when Annan come calling.

The game signals the beginning of a crucial three game period for the club, reckons Naysmith.

Jim Chapman’s men currently lead the division, with the Fifers three points behind in second place.

“We play Annan, Stirling Albion in the cup and then Arbroath away who are probably as close to a derby as we have in this league,” said the Bayview boss.

“It’s going to be a really big three games for us.

“With the squad we have available it’s important that we’re careful with how we train.

“I’m looking at the Annan game positively - if we beat them then we go top of the league.

“That’s my team talk written already.

“Jim Chapman will also be coming up and looking to put a gap between them and us and we don’t want that happening.”