With just one new signing so far this summer - former Wee Team centre half Jean-Yves M'Voto - there has been a marked lack of transfer activity around East End Park. The exit door has been far more active, with Callum Fordyce, Andy Geggan, David Hutton, Rhys McCabe, the Moff, Ben Richards-Everton and Lewis Spence all leaving the club since the end of the Pars' season 5 weeks ago. Loan players John Herron, Paul McMullan and Gavin Reilly have either returned to their parent clubs or are now out of contract.
The following players were already contracted to May 2018:
Joe Cardle, Nicky Clark, David Hopkirk, Lewis Martin, Sean Murdoch, Ryan Williamson.
Allan Johnston has since extended the contracts of Lee Ashcroft, Kallum Higginbotham, Callum Morris, Jason Talbot and Nat Wedderburn.
Former Under 20s players Paul Allan, Cammy Gill, Conner Duthie, Scott Lochhead, Brandon Luke, Stuart Morrison and Callum Smith were also given new deals (some before the end of last season), although Johnston has stated that some of them may be loaned out to build up first team experience in League 1 or 2. The majority of those players are still teenagers, but Dunfermline have decided against having an Under 20s team next season. The SPFL have announced the return of a reserve league but this does not begin until season 2018/19.
Johnston admitted that he had made enquiries about Simon Murray and James Keatings. Murray signed for Hibs after rejecting a new contract with Dundee United - it would have been a major surprise had he decided to join Dunfermline even without Hibs' interest, while Keatings, surprisingly freed by Hibs, joined Dundee United and also appeared to be a player outwith Dunfermline's realistic transfer radar. While it is pleasing to see the manager target such players, the other side of that argument is that time should not be wasted on players who, barring a major shock, are not realistic targets.
What should not be a doubt at this stage is Johnston's awareness of his squad's threadbare nature, especially in midfield and forward areas. The danger in waiting too long is starting the season with players who subsequently become unused substitutes, or are replaced by better quality when it eventually becomes available. Last season was a perfect example of that: until Nicky Clark was signed - weeks into the season, on 31 August - Dunfermline struggled up front with no League goals from strikers in the starting 11. If a promotion play-off place is to be achieved in 2017/18, the team cannot make such a slow start, and signings have to be embedded in the starting 11 at an earlier date than in 2016.
There should be no panic at this stage, however - while other Championship clubs have made some early signings, no players so far have been of the standard that would cause a Pars fan to believe that we missed out. Two clubs who finished just below us last season, Queen of the South and St Mirren, have signed ex-Pars Callum Fordyce, Shaun Rooney (both QOS) and Gregor Buchanan (St Mirren), while Morton have signed another ex-Dunfermline player, Robert Thomson, plus former Ayr midfielder Gary Harkins. None of these players would significantly improve the current DAFC squad. While there have been other signings for Championship clubs this summer, these moves are indicative of the standard of player being added to other teams' squads.
Pre-season training starts next week, and while at the moment Dunfermline would seem better equipped to compete in a revamp of the Tennants Soccer Sixes rather than the Scottish Championship, there are still 5 weeks until the first competitive game of the season, the Betfred Cup game against Elgin on 15 July. It is 8 weeks until the League season starts. Ideally the squad would be completed by then, 3 weeks before the end of the transfer window at the end of August, to give the team the best possible chance to start the season positively. Until then, in the words of Dad's Army's Private Jones, as played by the great Clive Dunn (pictured above): don't panic.