With the Betfred Cup acting as an extension of pre-season, today we take a look at the performance of the Pars squad over the past month and the emergence of several new players.
The excellent work done by John Potter has been evidenced by the emergence of several teenagers who have been given first team gametime during pre-season. Striker Lewis McCann scored twice and although still early in his development is one to watch in the future. A mention too for goalkeeper Cammy Gill who made his first start for the senior team in the Betfred game against Stirling Albion.
Who else but Faissal El Bakhtaoui, whose return to EEP has been the biggest Pars transfer news this summer. With 2 goals on his debut at Brechin, Faissal is the spark the team needed up front and will be a huge player for us in the months ahead.
DON'T FORGET ABOUT
Tom Beadling has been unavailable all pre-season, in addition to missing the final few games of last season. Once he is fully fit and gets a run of games, he will be our main presence in central midfield, an area of the team that is already well covered - in stark contrast to this time last year.
WHAT TO DO WITH
Callum Smith needs gametime and may be better served going on loan, despite AJ's comments at the last Supporters' Council meeting that he would remain at the club all season. However, that could be re-thought now, with the young striker slipping down the pecking order of strikers. He has great potential and needs to be playing first team football regularly.
Perhaps 'hero' is stretching it a bit, but Joe Thomson has already shown glimpses of being a Gary Mason' style midfielder, quietly efficient, allowing others to play a more expansive game. Teams need players such as Thomson and he is very effective in his role.
GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
Both Longridge brothers have impressed since joining the club this summer. Jackson Longridge, at 23, is already showing signs of being our best option at left back/left wingback - an upgrade on the dependable Jason Talbot but with far greater attacking threat in AJ's 3-5-2 system.
REASONS FOR OPTIMISM
- AJ has assembled the best squad of his time as Pars boss, and arguably the best group of players at EEP since the start of the 2012/13 season under Jim Jefferies.
- The 3-5-2 system is ideal for attacking fullbacks Ryan Williamson and Jackson Longridge, while we have 3 no-nonsense central defenders who stick to the basics of defending.
- There is competition for places right through the team. No one can take his place for granted, so performance levels will have to be maintained.
- Our strikers are mobile, athletic and combine skill with a healthy goal return. Myles Hippolyte has 4 goals already while Faissal (2) and Andy Ryan (3) have scored in their limited time on the pitch.
- There seems to be a real togetherness in the squad. Losing certain players from last season's squad may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.