Friendly to provide first glimpse of Ray’s Rovers

Ray McKinnon casts an eye over his players in training -  Credit -  Fife Photo Agency -
Ray McKinnon casts an eye over his players in training - Credit - Fife Photo Agency -

Raith Rovers fans can get their first glimpse of Ray McKinnon’s new-look side at Stark’s Park this Saturday.

The manager will be in the home dug-out for the first time as his former club, Brechin City, provide the opposition for the opening friendly match, kick-off 3.00 p.m.

And after running the rule over his squad in training over the past fortnight, McKinnon is keen to see his players in action.

“We have a good bunch, they are gelling very well, and they’ve trained hard, so up to now I’m very pleased,” McKinnon told the Press.

“But you always want to see the players in a game situation.

“There’s a wee bit added spice as well that it’s my old club coming down.

“It will be good to see old faces, directors and chairman, and most of the old players that I’d signed before I left.

“I’m looking forward to the game, and to giving the guys some game time.”

The Raith team sheet will feature seven new signings including the latest arrival, James Craigen, who put pen to paper last Friday, after spending the last two season with Partick Thistle. Goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw has also re-signed.

“James played 30 games in the Premier League last season and that tells you everything about him,” McKinnon said.

“He’s young, athletic, a good football player, has a fantastic attitude, and is the right type of person we want to bring to the club.

“We’ve been tracking James for over a month and we’re delighted to get him.”

McKinnon is now content with the competition in his squad and will use the upcoming friendlies, the second of which takes place at home to Hearts on Tuesday evening, to assess what, if any, position still requires strengthening.

“There’s lot of people getting banded about but we’ve got another five or six weeks until the season starts,” he said.

“There’s no rush to bring another one in - something always comes up.

“This will give me five or six weeks to have a look at squad and identify an area of the park we could do with strengthening.

“With what we’ve got left, we’ll just keep our powder dry for now and if somebody comes up then great, if not, then we’ve got a wee bit left to go into the market.

“If you want to have a successful club going forward you need competition all over the place.

“You need people pushing each other to play at their maximum, because if they are not, there is someone ready to step in.

“We’re trying to do that all over the park, right through the team.”

McKinnon added that Saturday’s opening friendly against Brechin will be used mainly for match fitness - and experimenting with his line-up.

He explained: “We’ve done a lot of work in terms of fitness and cardiovascular things, but we’ve not done a lot in terms of match practice.

“It’s a totally different fitness playing in games - you can run all day but match fitness is an important thing.

“We’re giving them a core fitness now so that when they go into games they’ll get better.

“Saturday will be good for them to gel, to try out different formations, and to have a look at people in different areas of the park.

“We’ve not done any work in terms of shape yet, simply due to the fact I want to see where people can play.

“There’s no point in me coming in and saying I want to play this formation if I don’t have the resources.

“There’s a mixture there and I know the strengths of the guys so we’ll wait and see.

“Closer to the start of the season we’ll have a clearer picture over how we’re going to play in terms of shape and set-up.”