'He can fire us to title': Raith Rovers boss Ian Murray believes retaining top scorer Lewis Vaughan could be key to winning this season's Scottish Championship

Retaining top goalscorer Lewis Vaughan on an extended contract could end up being the difference between Raith Rovers winning this season’s Scottish Championship and not, reckons Stark’s Park boss Ian Murray.
Raith's Lewis Vaughan poses with the match ball after scoring a hat-trick during a 4-4 home draw with Ayr United on December 22 (Pic by Mark Scates/SNS Group)Raith's Lewis Vaughan poses with the match ball after scoring a hat-trick during a 4-4 home draw with Ayr United on December 22 (Pic by Mark Scates/SNS Group)
Raith's Lewis Vaughan poses with the match ball after scoring a hat-trick during a 4-4 home draw with Ayr United on December 22 (Pic by Mark Scates/SNS Group)

Forward Vaughan, 28, delighted Murray and Raith fans by last week penning a two-year contract extension – his existing deal had been due to expire at the end of this season – tying him to Rovers until June 2026.

And the Raith gaffer knows that keeping a player who has battled back from four career-threatening ACL knee injuries since first signing as a youth way back in 2008 could be a vital piece of business as his second-placed side – only off top spot on goal difference – bid to overhaul Dundee United in the second half of the campaign.

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Murray told the Fife Free Press: "Keeping Lewis could be the difference between us winning the league or not this season because he's got the ability to pretty much score goals out of nothing, goals that other players can't score.

"I think when you've got 10 goals in the league by Christmas time like Lewis, normally you've got a real fight to keep your striker. So for us to get it signed up and for two years as well, regardless of what division we're in next season, is brilliant.

"I've been very fortunate in that there's not many lads that I've not enjoyed working with during my managerial career.

"But Lewis is a different case. I think to see the way he's battled back is brilliant. He gives everybody, including myself and the staff, a lot of inspiration.

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"When things aren't going your way and you're a wee bit down in the dumps, you just have to look over at Lewis and imagine what he's been through. And that's enough to kind of get you back on track.

"Lewis has got fierce competition with Callum Smith, Jamie Gullan and Jack Hamilton as our other strikers. So he knows that if his standards or performances drop there's boys ready to step in.

“Lewis has done remarkably well with his injuries, getting back in the team and to be top goalscorer is just brilliant for him.

"He was pretty easy to deal with. It didn't take long, a week or two. So on other offers, I actually don't know. Lewis never indicated that he wanted to be anywhere else and certainly didn't indicate other teams were trying to prise him away.”

Raith get a break from league duties tomorrow (Saturday) as they visit Scottish Premiership basement boys Livingston in a Scottish Cup fourth round tie which kicks off at 3pm.