Raith in talks with targets in all positions

Raith manager Barry Smith -  credit- Fife Photo Agency
Raith manager Barry Smith - credit- Fife Photo Agency

Raith Rovers boss Barry Smith is continuing to hold talks with several signing targets as he looks to build a squad capable of winning League One next season.

Smith is looking for players in “all positions” following the departure of 11 members of last season’s first team pool, including two loanees who returned to their parent clubs.

Currently, 10 players are signed on for next season, a number which includes youngsters Jamie Watson, James Berry and Ryan Stevenson.

A contract offer remains in place for midfielder Scott Robertson, who is believed to be still undecided over his future as he weighs up the offer of a coaching role at Dundee United alongside Craig Easton, who has left Raith to take up the post of reserve team coach at Tannadice.

So far there have been no new recruits, although Smith confirmed that a verbal agreement has been reached with one striker, which the club hope to announce next week once the paperwork is completed, with another forward also close to agreeing terms.

Smith is also on the hunt for goalkeepers, defenders and midfielders.

“We’re very close to agreeing deals with a number of players, in all positions,” he said.

“It’s just getting them over that final hurdle, but a lot can change in terms of the options players have.

“We just have to make this the best option for that player.”

While being a full-time club in a part-time division n continued from back page

will come with certain advantages, Smith admitted that the wages offered to players is not proving to be one of them.

“For as much as we’re staying a full-time club, the money we’re offering is matched by some part-time clubs,” he revealed.

“But we believe we can get the right players in that are going to enhance the squad.”

One player already lost to part-time football is long-serving right back Jason Thomson, who made the move to Arbroath this week after six and a half seasons at Stark’s Park.

Thomson featured in 272 games for the Kirkcaldy club, scoring 10 goals, seven of which came during a prolific campaign last year. He also captained the side to a famous Ramsdens Cup final victory over Rangers in April, 2014.

“We want to thank Jason as he’s been a tremendous servant to this club,” Smith said.

“He had a difficult choice to make financially for his family, and he felt it was better to have the security of part-time football, and another job, and we understand that.”

Smith admitted that the departure of Thomson could open the door to teenager Jamie Watson, who made seven appearances last term, to stake a claim for the regular right back position.

“Finances dictate that as well,” Smith said.

“We’re looking at running with a small squad, and we have to be looking at players who can play several positions, but the jersey is there for Jamie.

“We want young boys coming through that are Kirkcaldy born and bred, playing for Raith Rovers, and who have that extra feeling for the club - but they’ve got to be good enough.

“We believe Jamie has got a very good chance, and he showed that in his seven games last season, but the challenge is to play consistently over a longer period.”

Smith confirmed that Raith are likely to request that all their Betfred Cup ties are played away from home due to the work taking place converting Stark’s Park into an artificial pitch.

Raith have drawn Hearts, Inverness, Cowdenbeath and Cove Rangers in the group stages of the competition, which begin on July 14.

“We’ll probably have to play all the fixtures away from Stark’s Park which is not ideal, but we’ve got an opportunity to start the season winning games, no matter where we play, and that’s they way we’ll look at it,” Smith added.

“It does make the job more difficult, but it’s a case of dealing with that, and giving it our best shot to get through to the next round.”

Smith also confirmed that Kevin Cuthbert will return as his assistant manager next season.