Excitement of new campaign

Raith Rovers celebrate one of foour goals against ArbroathRaith Rovers celebrate one of foour goals against Arbroath
Raith Rovers celebrate one of foour goals against Arbroath
New Raith manager Gary Locke says he is 'buzzing' over the start tomorrow (Friday) of Rovers' new competitive season.

The Kirkcaldy side visit Cove Rangers in the newly-formated group stages of the Betfred League Cup, which mean a flurry of full-on action on the threshold of a new nine-month campaign.

However, the gaffer said he and assistant Darren Jackson were each delighted to be back after a spell out of the game.

“We are at a great club,” he told Sports Press.

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“There are a lot of great people at the club and we want to do well for them.

“It’s important to us.”

So far in the pre-season diary, a defeat a win and a draw, against Forfar Athletic, Brechin City and Partick Thistle respectively, have been followed by a 4-0 success on Saturday at Arbroath.

“It’s been enjoyable so far,” said Locke. “It’s always good when there’s no pressure on you to get results, but all the pressure starts on Friday.

“We have a couple of injury worries at the minute and we’re still looking to try and strengthen the squad.”

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Locke was understandably pleased to see his squad score four times at Gayfield but he said: “I’ve said all along I am not a manager that bothers overly about the (pre-season friendly) results. It’s about the players getting fitter and getting minutes on the pitch.

“The players looked a lot fitter and sharper and moved the ball quite a bit better than they had been doing.”

Locke said it was difficult to assess the impact of the new group structure in the Betfred League Cup.

“Any manager who wins all the games will probably tell you it’s great, and any manager that doesn’t do so well will probably tell you it’s not,” he reflected.

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Locke said it possibly wasn’t ideal for preparation, having such a burst of competitive games before the league campaign had started.

But, at the same time, he added, you could have too many friendly matches.

He and Jackson were nevertheless pleased with the way things had gone so far, and with the players’ response, and were looking forward to tomorrow’s north eastern trip.

“We know a fair bit about Cove – Darren and I watched their game on Tuesday against Forfar,” said Locke.

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“We have been very thorough in our build-up but just look what happened to Celtic – you can’t take any team lightly in this day and age. If we go there and don’t do as well as we can, we could come unstuck.”

The lively encounter finished 3-3 and Locke added: “It was a good game – they have a lot of good players who could cause us problems.”

Despite respect for the opposition, Locke and Jackson had confidence in Rovers’ chances.

Manager Gary Locke is due to have talks with a couple of players over the next two or three days as he bids to bolster his new squad of players.

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And the Stark’s Park boss is hopeful it will lead to the concusion of some deals.

Locke has already said he would like to strengthen the squad up front, and it’s the forward line which is the focus of his endeavours.

“Almost every striker we are in for, other clubs are interested in too and, in a lot of cases, they can pay that little bit more money,” he said.

“But I am pretty confident a couple of things can be sorted out over the next couple of days.”

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Injury problems were likely to rule two players out of tomorrow’s encounter with Cove Rangers.

Scott Robertson had been struggling for some time, while Craig Barr is also set to miss the game with a groin problem.

League Cup action continues for Rovers after the trip to the north east, with a home game against Montrose on Tuesday and then another trip north, to Ross County on July 23, followed by a July 30 home game with Alloa.