“There is excitement, butterflies in the belly and that anticipation of getting back,” said John McGlynn following Raith Rovers’ return to training on Friday.
The 2020/21 campaign may have ended in playoff heartbreak against Dundee, but the style and manner of their football — allied with some brisk business in the transfer market — has assured that positivity abounds at Stark’s Park.
The new faces; the walking wounded; the departed stars; the session plans ahead — Courier Sport outlines the lay of the land after the Fifers reported for duty.
No boot camp
You’ve heard the horror stories: gruelling sprints up sand dunes, army-style fitness routines and players run into the ground.
That, however, is not John McGlynn’s style. It won’t take a fortnight before the Rovers squad get the feel of leather at their feet.
His priority is to balance attaining the required sharpness with ensuring his stars are ready to implement his attacking, tactically-demanding stye of football when the action begins.
“It’s not all about run, run, run,” said McGlynn. “For me, there is a huge onus on the tactical side of the game from the moment we come back.
“Of course, we need to get fit — and you can be sure we’ll be doing that — but you can still incorporate other things.”
New faces and a new buzz
Raith Rovers wasted no time in preparing for the 2021/22 campaign. Indeed they were putting the pieces in place before last season was over.
Conversely, Kieran MacDonald, Regan Hendry, Iain Davidson, Dan Armstrong, Gozie Ugwu, Manny Duku, Fernandy Mendy and loan stars Timmy Abraham, Kai Kennedy, Nathan Cooney, Adam King and Jamie Gullan have all departed.
“The new faces absolutely adds to the excitement, 100 per cent,” continued McGlynn. “Friday was our first day back so you are quickly introducing the new guys and you get that freshness and camaraderie straight away.
“It’s about bedding them in and then, very quickly, implementing what you want from them.”
Regan Hendry offer
As well as the option of an extended contract, Rovers tabled an offer to allow Hendry to link up with Raith to keep his fitness up ahead of the new campaign, such is the regard with which McGlynn and the club hold the midfielder.
Well, what a few years it’s been. I can’t speak highly enough about my time at Raith but for now, it’s time to move on. Thanks to everyone at the club for helping create memories that’ll last a lifetime with me. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/mRDpiXgGIM
— Regan Hendry (@reganhendry11) June 11, 2021
The classy playmaker, who is understood to be closing in on a move to English football, felt unable to take part.
“We did offer for Regan to come in and keep his fitness up,” revealed McGlynn. “But the difficult becomes: if they get injured then it could wreck a move. So, I can totally understand why any player wouldn’t want to do that.”
Tom Lang, a new arrival from Clyde, underwent a minor operation recently and is a couple of weeks behind the rest of his teammates.
Luckless Dave McKay, who missed the entirety of last season with a cruciate ligament injury, tweaked his hamstring on his return to training on Friday, leaving McGlynn with his fingers crossed for the 22-year-old.
“That’s a bit of a blow because we are counting on Dave to hit the ground running and get going,” continued McGlynn. “He has a lot of quality, is a young man, and can still do a lot in the game. Hopefully, it just proves to be a bit of a niggle.”
Frankie Musonda target
Fans’ favourite Musonda, who penned a one-year contract extension over the close season, is on the road to recovery following knee surgery, with his progress currently considered steady.
While the Premier Sports Cup may come too soon for the Englishman, McGlynn is he may be back in contention for Rovers’ Championship opener.
“Frankie underwent surgery and it wasn’t just a tidy up. It was more significant than that,” added McGlynn. “He is a wee bit away but might be back for the first league game of the season.”