Raith captain agrees deal as others consider future

Raith Rovers captain Kyle Benedictus.
Raith Rovers captain Kyle Benedictus.

Raith Rovers captain Kyle Benedictus looks set to make a return next season after coming to a verbal agreement over a contract extension.

Stark’s Park gaffer Barry Smith said he expects the 26-year-old defender to re-sign for the club early next week, with an official announcement to follow.

Benedictus started last season in top form, but suffered a broken leg against Ayr in September which kept him out of action until February, after which he struggled to regain his sharpness.

“Kyle had a bad injury last season so he needs a good preseason behind him to get his fitness and confidence back,” Smith told the Press.

“He can be an important player for us next season in terms of his age and experience.”

Smith also confirmed that he has agreed terms with an out-of-contract striker, but due to the player currently being out of the country, the deal is on hold for the time being.

The manager is hoping to put together a squad of 16 first team players for League One next season, supplemented by youngsters, but with money tight, he admits this will not be easy.

“We are in talks with a lot of players, and it’s a case of trying to get them to fit within our financial structure,” he explained. “We also need to make sure we get the right ones to Stark’s Park to push us on again next season.”

There is uncertainty over a return for long-serving right back Jason Thomson as the 30-year-old is understood to be considering a move into part-time football, with Arbroath and East Fife among his suitors.

With first team coach Kevin Cuthbert out of contract, and still no announcement on his return, and both Craig Easton and Scott Robertson believed to be in talks with Dundee United over a coaching role at Tannadice, the backroom situation also remains unclear.

If Easton does depart for new pastures, then one of his final acts as head of youth development was to help secure three youngsters on professional contracts this week.

Eighteen-year-old right back Jamie Watson, a former Balwearie pupil, has signed a two-year deal after making seven appearances for the first team last season.

Midfielder Ryan Stevenson (19), who spent the second half of last season on loan at Bo’ness United, has penned a one-year contract, with another former Balwearie boy, James Berry (18), expected to do likewise when he returns from holiday.

All three featured in the under 20s’ back-to-back Development League East titles over the past two years.

Smith added: “They’ve got a lot of learning to do, but they’ve all shown something over the season that we’ve liked.

“Jamie Watson has played in the first team, and while James Berry and Ryan Stevenson have shown promise, they just have to show a wee bit more to start pushing towards the first team.

“It’s important that these guys come through the system and get the opportunity. We want to be bringing home-bred talent through to play in the first team at Raith.”

Rovers are due to return to preseason training on June 14.