Raith striker ‘chomping at the bit’ after spell on the bench

Mark Stewart made his latest substitute appearance against Hibs on Saturday. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Mark Stewart made his latest substitute appearance against Hibs on Saturday. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

Mark Stewart is desperate to reclaim his place in the side after becoming a regular substitute under boss Gary Locke.

The 28-year-old has been the club’s top scorer in each of the last two seasons, scoring 23 times, but he has yet to start a league game this term.

Stewart’s campaign has been hindered by injuries - an ankle problem in pre-season was followed by a hamstring strain - but he insists he is now 100 per cent fit and ready to be called upon ahead of Saturday’s trip to former club Falkirk.

“It’s been frustrating,” Stewart told the Press. “Ever since doing my ankle in March, I wouldn’t say I’ve not got going, I’m trying, but I’ve had a few niggles.

“I’ve bide my time but after getting in the team up at Forfar, getting a goal and pulling my hamstring at the same time, I lost 10 days, fell down the pecking order and had to start again.

“I’m chomping at the bit, training hard and trying to make an impact when I come on. I know I’ve got goals in me, especially at this level, so hopefully I’ll get my chance and I’ll be ready to take it.

“I’m not going to throw my toys out the pram - I’ll be ready when called upon.”

Stewart struck 11 times last season as Raith made the play-offs and has found the net twice this term despite only two starts, including a stunner against Dunfermline after coming off the bench.

“As a striker if you hit double figures, you’re doing alright, and I’ve managed to do that the past two years,” he said. “I’d like the opportunity to do that again, but it doesn’t matter as long as the team is winning, and I’m having an impact on where we finish at the end of the season.

“You just need to have the attitude as a striker to be ready to go on. It’s different from a centre-half because I don’t think strikers are always going to start games.

“You get the odd one that’s prolific - but in general strikers can sometimes make an impact from the bench, or sometimes they start the game. You’re not going to play every game and you need to be prepared for that as a striker - especially when you’ve got a front-line like we do.

“Obviously you want to be playing so you just need to have the right attitude, train hard, and be ready when called upon. Strikers are game-changers - like coming on against Dunfermline - I’ve done it throughout my career.

“The injuries haven’t helped but you just need to be patient. It’s all about attitude and the mental aspect of the game to keep going. I’ve had setbacks throughout my whole career and I just kick on again and get going.”