Raith braced for hectic start to the New Year

Raith Rovers manager Ray McKinnon. Pic: Lisa Ferguson
Raith Rovers manager Ray McKinnon. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

Raith Rovers manager Ray McKinnon has called on his injury-hit squad to dig deep ahead of a hectic start to the New Year.

Due to postponements, Raith are facing eight matches in the first five weeks of 2016, starting with the trip to Easter Road on January 2.

With several injuries to contend with, and strikers Jon Daly and possibly Craig Wighton leaving the club in the next couple of weeks, it promises to be a testing period for the Rovers squad.

McKinnon is hopeful of adding a striker during the January transfer window, but in the meantime, he has backed his squad to rise to the challenge.

“We have a lot of boys injured so the games coming up will be a test for us,” he said.

“But we have a decent squad and everybody will contribute this year.

“I’ve already stated that everyone has a role to play and up till now they’ve all done great when called on.

“We’ll keep moving on.”

McKinnon revealed that he is currently eyeing up two potential loan targets, believed to be strikers on the fringes of the first team of Premiership clubs.

“I’m trying behind the scenes to bring people in but there’s no point bringing someone in who’ll sit on the bench,” he said. “I’m looking up top but nobody is going to want to give away their best striker. I have my eye on two people and we’ll need to see where we are with that.

“Grant Anderson is on his way back, Mitch Megginson can play up top and we have Mark Stewart who can go up there.

“We have cover but not a lot of cover so if any of them were to get injured it would leave us short. There are players who are scoring goals just now but we can’t pay for them.

“It’s really difficult to get top class strikers. But we’re looking at two people and if I can get one in I’ll be happy.”

McKinnon takes his side to Easter Road on Saturday to face a Hibs side who lost their 17-game unbeaten run at Ibrox on Monday.

Alan Stubbs side are mounting a strong challenge for the title, but McKinnon insists Rovers should have nothing to fear against the Edinburgh club, who also visit Stark’s Park next week in the Scottish Cup.

“They’ve went on a great run and played half decent against Rangers,” McKinnon said.“It’ll be a tough game because they’ll be desperate to keep pace with Rangers but at the same time we’ll be there to win the game, no doubt about that.

“I’m expecting two tough games but I also expect it’ll be two tough games for them. We have to make sure we keep ourselves in the game and keep performing.

“The last game at Stark’s Park we were the better team in the second half and I think we should have beaten them.

“We don’t fear them.”

McKinnon is looking forward to pitting his wits against Stubbs two weeks running.

“Both games are big games for both clubs,” he said. “We want to win both, we want to climb the league and we want to progress in the cup.

“But I looked at their bench against Rangers and seeing guys like Malonga, Islam Feruz, Anier - there are three strikers right away. For this level it’s frightening.

“I think they have a better squad than Rangers but maybe not a better starting XI.

“We’ve done well this season, nobody has turned us over badly apart from Rangers. We’re decent and strong so we have to make sure we go out there and are well organised.”