The real test starts now, says Raith boss Hughes

Stark's Park - Kirkcaldy - Fife -  Raith Rovers v Hibs - Raith manager John Hughes at the end of the match -  credit- Fife Photo Agency
Stark's Park - Kirkcaldy - Fife - Raith Rovers v Hibs - Raith manager John Hughes at the end of the match - credit- Fife Photo Agency

Raith Rovers boss John Hughes is ‘cracking the whip’ in training this week to ensure his players maintain the standards set against Hibs.

Rovers travel to Queen of the South on Saturday then down to Ayr United on Tuesday for two crucial away fixtures.

Hughes was encouraged by aspects of the performance in his first game in charge, but he admits the first real test of his tenure will come at Palmerston Park on Saturday.

“There was plenty questions asked of us on Saturday and we ticked a lot of boxes ,” he said. “But it’s easy getting yourself up for Hibs with 4500 there and a new manager.

“This is the real test for us –can we keep the standards up or do we drop them?

“I’m cracking the whip at training – I won’t put up with any slackness. It’s not a threat to any of the players, but if you don’t want to listen, learn what’s required, and go apply it, then you’ll get left behind.

“The biggest part of getting better in any walk of life is listening, taking things on board, working it out and implementing it.

‘‘To be fair to the players, they’ve been different class.

“Sometimes it’s one step forward, two back, but I’m seeing progress. We’ll go to Queen of the South and we’ll need to keep the energy levels up and be at it from the word go. If we’re not, then we’ll get beat.

“There will be more questions asked of us over whether we can match the first half perfomance from Saturday, and hopefully we’ll come up with a positive answer.”

Reflecting on the 1-1 draw with Hibs, Hughes added: “The positives were the result, scoring a goal, our organisation and hard work. Hibs struggled to break us down and it took a free-kick to get them back in the game.

“Nothing against the performances of the subs, but I was disappointed because it back-fired a little bit. It put us on the back foot instead of the front foot.

“The reason I put them on is because I trust them, and from what I’ve seen in training they deserve the chance. My only frustration is there are more on the bench who deserve a chance, but you can’t play everyone. You just have to make sure that when your chance comes, take it.

“But I was really pleased for the boys. I thought there was a real togetherness, and organisation.

“If I’m honest, I think we have to get better on the ball in the final third in terms of the combination and link-up play, and creating more chances, but it will come.”

Hughes is relishing being back in football after eight months out of the game and admits he is prepared to take on the role of a father figure to what is a mostly young squad.

“It’s my job to make sure the guys get a feeling that they’re working for a manager who will do anything for them - and I would,” he said.

“If they were hard up I’d look after them and take them to stay with me. That’s my job as the manager of Raith Rovers.

“No matter if I’ve known them for two days, a week, a month – they’ve got a manager that’s right in there with them, and going to give them everything I’ve got. Whatever it takes for to try to help them along and get the best out of them, then that’s what I’ll do.”

Rovers welcome Iain Davidson and Kevin McHattie back from suspension.