Raith boss praises players for battling through injuries

Liam Buchanan scored in the 2-1 win over Alloa last Saturday - Fife Photo Agency
Liam Buchanan scored in the 2-1 win over Alloa last Saturday - Fife Photo Agency

Manager Barry Smith has hailed his wounded soldiers for playing through the pain barrier to help Raith Rovers’ promotion bid.

A number of players have pulled on the boots despite struggling with injury in recent weeks and Smith believes it is a reflection of the spirit within the squad.

“It’s all hands to the pump just now,” Smith told the Press. “It shows the togetherness in the dressing room that guys are wanting to play through injuries, and it’s more than just niggles.

“Bobby Barr is struggling but he felt he would be able to play a part on Saturday, and because of another injury, we had to bring him on after half an hour.

“In an ideal world you would leave him out, but he’s willing to put himself on the line, and because of the quality he’s got, we’re glad to have him on the bench.

“Iain Davidson also had a problem with his back, but he went on for the last 10 minutes and did well using his experience. John Herron wanted to play too, but we had to pull him out. These guys want to do well for Raith, and I think the fans are seeing that everybody is together. On Saturday you could feel that the fans wanted them to do well.

“It’s good when everyone is together, because it gives the players that wee bit freedom to express themselves – we saw that on Saturday.”

With Kyle Benedictus and Kevin McHattie suffering setbacks, and Ross Matthews only returning to light training this week after straining his back on Saturday, Rovers remain mired in injury trouble.

The manager has had to rely on youngsters from the development squad, particularly in defence, where teenagers Dave McKay and Jamie Watson have impressed.

“Ideally they’d be going out and getting experience this season rather than facing the challenge of getting the team promoted,” he said. “The young guys have shown that, if put in, they can handle it, but consistency is the big thing.

“Young players wll have ups and downs, and at the moment they are doing well. We just have to keep their confidence high and hope their performances stay at a good level.”

Raith’s trip to Airdrie this weekend has been moved to Sunday 4.15 p.m kick-off for BBC Alba but Smith is not concerned by the presence of live TV cameras.

“They players will just go about their business,” he said. “Airdie sat in at Stark’s and made it very difficult, and I would expect them to do the same. We have to make sure we move the ball quickly, and if we do that, we’ll show the type of team we are, but it won’t be easy.”

Lewis Vaughan is again likely to be utilised in midfield after making a telling contribution in both victories over Queen’s Park and Alloa.

“The midfield worked well on Saturday, and we got on the ball in the right areas,” Smith said. “The good thing about Lewis is he’s not scared of getting kicked so he’ll go in for challenges, and he made a few himself on Saturday, which is another side of his game that maybe folk haven’t seen.

“We’re not saying he’s going to be there all the time, but at the moment he’s doing well and we’re getting benefit from him getting forward, and getting on the ball more regularly. There’s a lot more to come from the team between now and the end of the season and they’ve all got a big part to play.”