Raith Rovers can give Betfred Cup their best shot, says captain Kyle Benedictus

Raith Rovers captain Kyle Benedictus.
Raith Rovers captain Kyle Benedictus.

Raith Rovers captain Kyle Benedictus believes the club is better prepared for the Betfred Cup group stages than they were last season.

Rovers started the previous campaign without a home, and without a complete squad as a lopsided line-up featuring full-backs on the wings and just two teenage substitutes, went down to a 2-0 defeat to Cowdenbeath at Bayview, a temporary home while the artifical surface was laid at Stark's Park.

Rovers also lost 2-0 at Cove Rangers, then a Highland League side, as they finished bottom of their group, despite a more encouraging 1-1 draw against Hearts live on TV.

Fast forward 12 months and Rovers have 21 signed players, including five part-timers in a hybrid model, putting the club on a stronger footing ahead of the cup opener against Dundee on Saturday.

"This time last year there wasn't a full squad and we were clutching at straws a bit," Benedictus admitted.

"But the manager and Smudger have worked hard over the summer to bring a squad together, and after four wins out of four in preseason the boys are feeling confident.

"We'll still be a bit tight with 21 players, and with Robbie Thomson, Lewis Vaughan and Tony Dingwall on the treatment table we're talking about 18 available.

"But we've came through preseason with no more injuries, and hopefully that continues because when we have a full squad available I think we'll be very strong.

"We've got four difficult games to start with in the cup but we'll be able to go in and give it our best shot."

As well as adjusting to a new hybrid system Rovers are also bedding 10 new signings into the squad, but Benedictus feels things have been running smoothly.

"It's been a good preseason, we've worked hard, and we're ready for Saturday now," he said.

"There's a few part-time players and it's more difficult getting them involved, but on Tuesdays and Thursdays they've been working just as hard as the full-time boys and getting up to fitness.

"It's a good bunch and we all mingle well and we're looking forward to getting the season started."

The skipper has also been impressed with the calibre of players brought to the club over the summer.

"The signings brought in have all got different attributes," he said.

"Everyone knows Regan's quality, and he'll help boys around him because he's so confident on the ball.

"Big Nando, you can see just by looking at him what he's going to bring - he's strong and powerful.

"Fans know Ando and it's going to be a different challenge up there for him. Last time here he was more of a winger, but he's adding different parts to his game now such as going in behind and holding the ball up.

"The same with Lewis Allan, he's came in and done well holding the ball up and between him and Ando they've got a couple of goals which will give them confidence.

"Joao gave us problems last year, every time we played against him I thought he was their best player, so that can only be a good thing.

"He's the type of player that, if he's confident, he'll produce the goods.

"Brad will be a right good player for us as well, he's got a lot of dig about him but also quality.

"Macca was probably the best left back in the league last season so he's a great addition, and I'm comfortable playing alongisde him.

"All the signings are going to bring something to the team."

Benedictus is set to wear the armband again this season and he remains desperate to lead the club back to the Championship after two failed attempts.

"From the day we got relegated I said I wanted to be part of getting this club back up," he said.

"I'll be giving my all and every single one of the players will as well, I'll make sure of it."

The 27-year-old is looking forward to facing his former club on Saturday and insists all the expectation will be on the Dens Park side.

"There's more pressure on them as the team in the higher league and they've just relegated from the Premier," he said.

"There's a lot of onus on them, but we're not just here to make up the numbers.

"We've got a good squad, and you can see how the manager wants us to play.

"It's still early and there's things we can touch up on, but it's probably a good time to play Dundee, because it will be a bit rusty for them as well.

"I'm sure it will be a big crowd and an exciting atmosphere which will be a good start for the boys, and hopefully we can get the points we need."