Peter Grant has revealed that he will hold discussions with Dunfermline’s five trialists regarding their futures in the next 48 hours.
The Pars’ squad was peppered with mystery men for the 2-2 draw with Spartans on Wednesday evening, with both starting centre-halves and three substitutes all seeking to earn deals at East End Park.
“Within the next couple of days, I’ll make decisions,” said Grant. “It’s important for the boys to know. If it isn’t gong to happen here, then I want to make sure they can go somewhere else.
“I don’t want to waste their time or our time. They could all come here for two weeks, giving up opportunities to go elsewhere; I could say ‘just come back next week again’. That’s just not fair.
“Myself, Greg [Shields] and Steven [Whittaker] have the footage of the game, we’ve seen them in training and we’ll have a clear picture.”
But just who were the Pars hopefuls? And how did they perform against the Lowland League outfit? Courier Sport was at Ainslie Park for the thoroughly entertaining draw.
Already a familiar name to the Dunfermline faithful, with Grant having previously confirmed that the former Sheffield Wednesday defender was training with the Fifers.
— The Spartans FC (@spartansfc) June 23, 2021
Rice was, by a distance, the most impressive of the Pars trialists, spreading passes out from the back, stepping forward and coping admirably with the considerable physical challenge posed by Blair Henderson.
“Isaac has been in for close to two weeks and his attitude has been first class,” said Grant. “So we’ll see what his thoughts are and what my thoughts are on things.”
The 6ft 3ins Omar, 21, was sent off after just 15 minutes by referee Peter Stuart after leaving a back-pass short and subsequently hauling down Henderson.
“Some of these boys haven’t played since last March,” noted a sympathetic Grant. “They have been training and running, but that’s not the same thing.
Good grief, Dunfermline trialist Ali Omar has just been sent off – in a friendly – after leaving a back-pass short, then hauling down the Spartans striker. Nightmare outing.
— Alan Temple (@alanftemple) June 23, 2021
“If you haven’t had the ball at your feet enough, then things can go wrong — timing can be off — and I think that happened with Ali. I’m disappointed for him.”
It would be stating the blindingly obvious to say that this brief outing did the former QPR and Barnsley kid no favours.
Canadian midfielder Paton — brother of Ross County schemer Harry — entered the fray at half-time and impressed. A rangy presence, his first instinct was always to look for a forward pass and he had a couple of decent efforts on goal.
The 20-year-old is a free agent after leaving Blackburn and has represented his country at youth level.
Discussing his Ewood Park exit in April, Paton told The Record.com: “It’s a new challenge, a new experience and I’m pretty excited actually because I really want to kick-start my career somewhere.”
The diminutive Taylor — brother of Celtic and Scotland ace Greg — is on the hunt for a new club after departing Dunfermline’s Championship rivals Kilmarnock.
He was afforded the chance to shine as a second-half substitute in north Edinburgh and was a ball of energy, chewing up the yards and snapping into tackles. His quality on the ball, however, did not quite match that of midfield colleague Paton.
The 20-year-old, who emerged through the youth ranks at Dundee United, was on the books of Grant’s Alloa last season and has been training with the Pars.
He remained on the bench for the entirety of the draw with Spartans and, given the club have just signed Deniz Mehmet, one suspects any offer made to the youngster would be as emergency back-up.