Raith Rovers have moved to extend the contracts of two young defenders regarded by the manager as the best partnership in the Championship.
Kyle Benedictus (24), and Lewis Toshney (23), have both signed new deals that have tied them to the Kirkcaldy club until the summer of 2017.
The duo have shown impressive form during the first half of the season, and were at the heart of the Rovers defence that held onto the last remaining home clean sheet record for league matches in Britain until the start of October.
Boss Ray McKinnon made re-signing the centre-half pairing a top priority and is delighted to have both on board for next season already.
“At 23 years of age they’ve got their whole career ahead of them,” McKinnon told the Press.
“The two of them are maturing, they’ve got great experience, and I think this is the time they are really going to kick on in their careers.
“They’ve done really well in the games that they’ve played - I don’t see a better partnership in our league.
“We’re delighted that they want to keep working with us and extend their deals here.”
McKinnon knew both players before bringing them to Raith and is not surprised by the impact they have made at Stark’s Park.
“It was probably seen as a gamble taking two young centre halves who had suffered set-backs in their careers, but I knew the types they were, and I think the fans know exactly what types they are,” he said.
“Off the pitch they are the jokers of the club, but they set a standard in training. They train fantastically well and that’s the biggest credit to them.
“They train the way they play - you have to rein Toshney in at times because he’s blocking things on the line with his head - that’s how he gets injured!
“Benny is the same - some of the tackles they do in training make you wince, but that’s why they are so good.
“That’s what we need at this club. Players who want to train every day and be the best they can be.
“They probably want to play at a higher level, but hopefully we’ll give them that platform.
“If they keep doing it for us, and can maybe take this club forward, then the world’s their oyster in terms of Scottish football.”
After assembling a squad almost from scratch during the summer, McKinnon stressed the importance of putting building blocks in place for next season and beyond.
“We don’t want to be sitting in the summer looking around, relying on pot-luck to see what’s available,” he said.
“It’s important that the club looks to the future and starts building now.
“We don’t want to get caught out and lose our best players to our rivals, so we’re making a statement.
“It’s not just about where you are at the moment, it’s where you want to be.”
McKinnon hopes the rest of the players in the squad take motivation from the deals offered to the centre-half pairing and fight to win new contracts for themselves.
“Every player is hopefully wanting to be part of what we’re trying to do for next season,” he said.
“This shows that with the right work ethic, determination and quality there are deals to be done at the club. I’m really happy with the way the club is moving forward.”