Key signings made with more to come

Dougie Hill has signed a new contract at Raith, along with fellow centre-back Paul Watson
Dougie Hill has signed a new contract at Raith, along with fellow centre-back Paul Watson

Raith Rovers re-signed two key players this week with the promise of new faces to follow in the coming days.

The Kirkcaldy club held off stiff competition from rival Championship sides to retain the services of popular defenders Paul Watson and Dougie Hill on new contracts.

Watson (23) missed a chunk of last season with a broken foot, an injury that co-incided with Rovers sudden dip in form.

Manager Grant Murray is delighted that he has decided to stay at Stark’s Park for what promises to be an exciting season.

“He was a big part of the team last season and we missed him when he was out,” Murray said.

“Paul always said he wanted things finalised before he went on holiday and that’s what’s happened.

“He’s a big character and the fact that he was made captain when Jason Thomson was out the team shows what I think of him.”

The signings of Watson and Hill leaves only a handful of players from last season’s squad who are yet to agree new deals.

David McGurn has reached a verbal agreement and is likely to be given a chance to prove his fitness in pre-season after spending the past eight months out with a torn achilles.

Grant Anderson and Greig Spence are both in talks with the club but no agreements have yet been reached, while Lee Robinson is still on Rovers’ radar.

“We’ve made Grant and Greig aware that we want to keep them,” Murray explained.

“Lee’s another one I’d like to sit down with to see what his thoughts are.

“With Davie McGurn coming back from long-term injury, and Ross Laidlaw recently requiring knee surgery, we don’t want to go into the new season with two goalkeepers who may or may not be 100 per cent fit.”

Callum Booth meanwhile has returned to relegated Hibs where he is expected to become part of boss Terry Butcher’s plans for next season, although Murray indicated that he will keep tabs on the left back’s situation.

Rovers are also in talks with a number of potential new targets, and were closing in on a deal yesterday (Wednesday), but no signature has been secured as yet.

Eric Drysdale, chief executive, explained: “We are very active and continuing our efforts to secure the right people for the squad.”

“These efforts will continue in the days and weeks ahead. I cannot comment on potential targets until we have secured a signature.”

Mr Drysdale also confirmed that Hibs play-off defeat to Hamilton and subsequent relegation has given the manager extra funds.

He added: “As a result of weekend events we have finalised a budget and advised Grant Murray of a slightly improved figure.”

Rovers pre-season schedule has also started to take shape over the past week.

The club has lined up a friendly fixture against English League Two side York City at Stark’s Park on Tuesday, July 15, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

York are currently managed by former Northern Ireland international and ex-Norwich City boss Nigel Worthington.

Three days earlier two cup winners will square up at Stark’s Park as the Ramsdens Cup winners welcome Scottish Cup heroes St Johnstone to Stark’s Park.

With the Saints gearing up for their forthcoming Europa League campaign it promises to be a competitive match.

It will take place on Saturday, July 12, with a 3.00 p.m kick-off.

Rovers have also contacted English Championship side Middlesborough in an attempt to resurrect an annual friendly fixture that saw Boro take on the Ramsdens Cup winners through a mutual sponsorship arrangement.

Drysdale said: “We hope to find out in the next 24-48 hours whether they are keen to play us.

“There’s no guarantees but it would be good to get a game against a club of that stature.”

Rovers return to pre-season training at Michael Woods Centre in Glenrothes on June 21.