Tomorrow's game gives the Dunfermline team an early chance to establish their promotion credentials with the visit of title favourites Ross County. After breaking the long-standing Dundee United hoodoo last week, this weekend's game provides another major test. The greater the challenge, the greater the boost to confidence that a win brings, as would be the case tomorrow if we can secure the 3 points. As with last week's game, when we faced - and saw off - Nicky Clark and Fraser Aird, tomorrow sees us face another 2 players who decided against signing new contracts with us this summer, and instead jumped ship to a rival team, in this case Callum Morris and Declan McManus.
Football is full of well-worn cliches, amongst them 'selection headache', which is what currently faces Pars boss Allan Johnston. When having virtually a full squad to pick from, the cliche often extends to 'the type of headache a manager wants'. AJ faces such a decision when selecting the line up for Saturday. Ryan Williamson and Kallum Higginbotham are now free from suspension having both served 1 game bans last week. Their replacements last week, James Craigen and Joe Thomson, both had excellent games and so an instant return to the starting 11 for Williamson and Higginbotham may not be as straightforward a decision as previously thought. Craigen excelled at right wingback and while a natural midfielder, were he to revert back to midfield, that would in turn lead to the exclusion of either Thomson or James Vincent, and in turn make it harder for Higginbotham to be included. I could easily see Williamson and Higginbotham on the bench tomorrow - it would be a surprise to see both start, given the recent performances of the players they would most likely replace.
The rest of the team should be along familiar lines. The squad overhaul this summer has been a success and new players such as Myles Hippolyte have made a good start to their Pars career. Hippolyte will once again lead the line, with his striking partner Faissal El Bakhtaoui given licence to run at the Ross County defence, Callum Morris in particular. Morris can be vulnerable against a fast, tricky forward and will not relish facing an in-form El Bakhtaoui.
Callum Morris rejected a new Pars contract this summer, preferring a move to England. On 4 June, Pars chairman Ross McArthur was quoted as saying: ''After much thought and deliberation, Callum has informed us that he wishes to move back down south and try his luck again in England.'' On 21 June, Ross County announced they had signed the defender. Morris had moved 153 miles north and had given his agent barely longer than Willo Flood's spell at Dunfermline to find a club in England. Ross County's other ex-Par, Declan McManus, ended his Dunfermline career in the play-off defeat at Tannadice in May, having missed a glorious chance to put the team 2-0 ahead. After the game, McManus posted on social media, saying 'next season', which we all assumed meant he wanted to make amends with Dunfermline, and not a team in direct opposition.
Most players have no real affinity with the clubs they play for, so we should ignore Morris and McManus and instead be glad that their replacements have, so far, been of a higher quality than the duo they replaced. That's the matter covered: let's move on and get the 3 points.