Peter Grant has revealed that Graham Dorrans is ahead of schedule as he battles back from an ankle injury.
However, the Dunfermline boss admits the form of Paul Allan has ensured Dorrans’ return to the starting line-up is far from a foregone conclusion.
The former Dundee, Rangers and Scotland midfielder suffered the damage during the Pars’ hard-fought 1-1 Fife derby draw with Raith Rovers on September 29.
And while there is an outside chance he could feature in a light session in the coming days, Grant is more confident Dorrans will be back in training next week.
It is a positive outcome given the initial prognosis.
“Graham has been struggling from the knock he got against Raith Rovers,” said Grant. “But he is getting there.
“He is still a little pinched on his ankle but is actually a lot closer than what we thought he would be.
“We thought it would be a lot longer.
“However, we are thinking that — if not this week — then he could be back next week for a return to training.”
In Dorrans’ absence, 20-year-old Allan has shone.
He was a silver lining in an otherwise grim 1-0 defeat against Queen of the South and arguably man-of-the-match in Saturday’s thrilling 2-2 draw against Kilmarnock.
Despite only having three Championship starts under his belt, he has looked assured and capable in the heart of midfield.
“Paul [Allan] has been excellent,” lauded Grant. “He’s a young footballer I really like.
“I thought the group was maybe too young to make Paul that main core of things — but he’s proven he can play.
“He produces passes that others don’t see in this division. I tip my hat to those who were coaching him prior to me, for that.”
As well as technical proficiency, Allan’s mentality shines through when one considers the Pars’ precarious plight; bottom of the league and without a victory.
“Absolutely, [his mental strength] it is massive,” added Grant. “You need to be willing to take the ball under pressure.
“You need to get on the ball and, even when you make mistakes, react well and help your teammates.
‘The biggest competition’
All of which means Dorrans faces a fight for his jersey upon his return.
“That’s football,” smiled Grant. “When opportunity knocks you need to be willing to grab it. I’m not surprised that Paul has done that.
“The biggest competition should be on the training pitch and, as always, it is up to someone else to knock him out of the side.”
Meanwhile, Grant is sweating over the fitness of Vytas Gaspuitis.
The Lithuania international was withdrawn in the closing stages against Killie and has not trained this week.