Raith Rovers step up preparations with three friendlies in six days

Stark's Park - Kirkcaldy - Fife - 
Raith v Stirling Albion - KIERON BOWIE -
credit- Fife Photo AgencyStark's Park - Kirkcaldy - Fife - 
Raith v Stirling Albion - KIERON BOWIE -
credit- Fife Photo Agency
Stark's Park - Kirkcaldy - Fife - Raith v Stirling Albion - KIERON BOWIE - credit- Fife Photo Agency
Raith Rovers will step up their preparations for the new season with three friendlies in the space of six days.

John McGlynn’s men entertain Premiership side Hamilton Accies at Stark’s Park tonight (Thursday) before welcoming Lowland League outfit Spartans on Saturday.

The preseason programme concludes with another home friendly against Cowdenbeath on Tuesday before the serious action begins with the Betfred Cup opener against Dundee in Kirkcaldy next Saturday, July 13.

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McGlynn has been pleased with how his new-look squad, featuring 10 new signings and operating a hybrid model, has fared thus far both in training, and in the 1-0 win over Stirling Albion on Saturday.

The match featured only two starting players, Kyle Benedictus and Ross Matthews, from the side that lost in the play-off second leg to Queen of the South in the final game of last season.

“Everything’s going very well,” McGlynn said. “On Saturday we had nine different players from the last game of the season - that’s a lot.

“You can train for a few weeks, work on fitness a lot and some tactical work as well, but it’s in the games where they will get a better understanding of the whole thing.

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“We want them to get used to the style of play, their team mates, the pitch, stadium and the fans.

“There’s no team perfect and we need to be better on the ball than we were on Saturday.

“At times we were very good but there were times when we made individual errors and didn’t get punished.

“The most important thing is we continue to work on building match fitness and sharpness.”

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McGlynn is expecting a tough challenge against a Hamilton side preparing for its sixth consecutive Premiership campaign, and coming off the back of a 2-0 win over fellow League One title hopefuls Falkirk in a closed-doors game on Tuesday.

“They defy the odds every year and stay in that league,” he said. “Brian Rice came in and turned things around for them last season, and he’s the type to get his team to play good football so it will be a good test for us.

“We’ve picked the friendly opposition with the Betfred Cup opposition in mind – teams at a similar level to the ones we’ll be facing so we’ll be as prepared as we can be.”

Rovers signed striker Lewis Allan this week, bringing the total squad size to 21, which will mean no further transfer activity at Stark’s Park, although a loan signing may still be made further down the line.

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“That’s us at 21 which is full capacity for the time being, although we’re currently working with a squad of 18 players who are fit,” McGlynn stated.

“We don’t have a large number. You’ll see a lot of teams in friendlies play 11 in the first half and different 11 in the second half, but I don’t actually want that luxury because we’re giving players 90 minutes and getting match fitness up quicker, which is exactly what we’re wanting.

“The lads that didn’t start on Saturday will start against Hamilton, and we’ll balance it off again for the games against Spartans and Cowdenbeath, and come to a conclusion over the team we’ll put out against Dundee to do the best we possibly can.”

McGlynn confirmed that he expects Tony Dingwall and Lewis Vaughan to return sometime in September, with Robbie Thomson remaining out until the end of the year.