'We're delighted to get him back': Raith Rovers boss Ian Murray boosted as defender Keith Watson returns to play 45 minutes of bounce game

In a welcome boost for Raith Rovers ahead of this Saturday’s Scottish Cup fourth round trip to Premiership basement boys Livingston, manager Ian Murray has told the Fife Free Press that 34-year-old centre-back Keith Watson – out since September with a knee injury – came through 45 minutes of a bounce game on Tuesday and is nearing fitness.
Raith boss Ian Murray was delighted long term absentee Keith Watson came through the first half of a bounce game (Pic by Fife Photo Agency)Raith boss Ian Murray was delighted long term absentee Keith Watson came through the first half of a bounce game (Pic by Fife Photo Agency)
Raith boss Ian Murray was delighted long term absentee Keith Watson came through the first half of a bounce game (Pic by Fife Photo Agency)

Murray said: “Keith did really well in the bounce game and was looking really good. I thought he was a wee bit ahead of what we anticipated.

"He was really aggressive. It didn’t really cross our minds at all that he was just back.

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"I think he’s pretty close to being considered for selection in a competitive game.

"We have to be careful. We have to see how he reacts to the 45 minutes.

"If Keith is not involved this weekend I would expect him to be ready for next week.

"That is a great boost. Sometimes when you’re winning games you can forget about players who are missing and how much they actually have an influence because on Tuesday in that bounce game, you saw all Keith’s qualities which are heading the ball, organising, communicating, speaking to people and maybe things you lose sight of. So we’re delighted to get him back.”

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Raith will still be without midfielder Sam Stanton against Livi, with defender Euan Murray rated ‘doubtful’ to play.

Murray also said goalkeeper Kevin Dabrowski has a very good chance of being fit to face Livi after missing the last two games with a hip problem.

"Andy McNeil has come in and done really well, really solid and I’m really pleased for him. But Kevin’s our number one and has done brilliantly for us this season.

"Like all goalkeepers there were a couple of wee blips here and there but in the main he’s been really, really good in his first season.

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"So I’m delighted to get him back, he brings a presence in the goal. He’s just been getting into that wee area of being really, really comfortable of being our number one and there’s just been a wee setback for him.”

On facing Livi, Murray added: "It’s always a tough game in the cup against higher league opposition and the other team is just coming back from a winter break. You don’t get to see them in the build-up to the game, what they’ve been working on.

"They’ve had a good rest. Sometimes it works for you and sometimes it works against you but the bottom line is we know this is going to be a hard game.

"I have never seen Livingston give teams an easy game since David (Martindale) has been in the job there.

"They’re going through a wee rough patch, a tough time in their league. But they’ll see this maybe as a catalyst for the second half of their season.”