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Steven Whittaker recalls Hibs ‘learning curve’ as Dunfermline interim co-manager explains Iain Wilson absence

Whittaker, left, was brought into the coaching fold by Paul Heckingbottom prior to the Englishman's exit
Whittaker, left, was brought into the coaching fold by Paul Heckingbottom prior to the Englishman's exit

Steven Whittaker helped to steady the ship at Hibs following Paul Heckingbottom’s exit.

But seeking to arrest Dunfermline’s decline is proving a far more onerous task.

Whittaker, the Par’s interim co-manager alongside Greg Shields, is no stranger to the situation, having experienced a similar scenario at Easter Road in 2019.

Still a player at the time, the model professional was drafted onto the makeshift staff of Eddie May and Grant Murray — and helped the Hibees to a 4-1 win at St Johnstone.

Whittaker describes that as an invaluable ‘learning curve’ on his coaching journey, even if it pales in comparison to the stress and workload of his current position.

“At Hibs, I was still playing and I was asked to help Eddie May and Grant Murray,” recalled the former Rangers and Scotland star. “It was another pair of eyes.

“I enjoyed that role as a senior player. I still trained with the squad during that week then went into the coaches meeting with the staff.

“It was a good learning curve but this is far more full-on.

“The hours are long, which comes with the territory — I’m not complaining — and we are doing everything we can to get the victory we all want.”

Experience

Now a fixture in the dugout, it is easy to forget that Whittaker, 37, only retired from the game and, based on his showings in the second half of the 2020/21 campaign, could have played on.

Does that accentuate the feeling of helplessness on the sidelines at the Pars toil?

Whittaker was solid on the pitch last term

“I don’t think about it that way, but you’re constantly trying to think of how the players are seeing things,” continued Whittaker.

“You use your experiences and try to help the situation.

“If you would have dealt with something slightly differently, then you might help the individual in certain scenarios.”

‘A grand job’

Seeking to bounce back from a 3-1 defeat against Morton when Dunfermline visit Inverness on Saturday, Whittaker admits he has a welcome selection headache.

Iain Wilson was a notable absentee from the squad against the Ton, while Graham Dorrans is also fighting to get back to full fitness.

Wilson in action

“The issue is we’ve got a squad of 24 bodies and physio has done a grand job of keeping everyone fit,” smiled Whittaker.

“We’re constantly thinking of who is the best personnel and searching for the best team that we think can win a game of football.

“The subs are chosen according to the way the game might go or the attributes of that individual. So, Iain [Wilson] missed out at the weekend but that doesn’t mean that will be the case against Inverness.

“They all trained and that’s their platform to put themselves in the manager’s thoughts, whether that’s us or whoever else. That’s the way it should be.”

EXCLUSIVE: Jim Jefferies in ominous ‘look at Falkirk’ warning as former Dunfermline boss insists Pars fans deserve Premiership football

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