John Hughes insists Graham Dorrans is the best player on the books of Dunfermline.
And the new Pars manager reckons the experienced midfielder can provide the ‘gold dust’ to inspire a surge up the standings.
Dorrans, 34, has endured a testing period since joining the Fife club in July.
The former Scotland, Rangers and Dundee ace was immediately pitched into action without a pre-season and failed to impress during a dismal run of results.
An ankle injury sustained in September then kept him sidelined for six weeks.
But a fine showing in Dunfermline’s 2-1 victory at Inverness on Saturday underlined his quality — and Hughes has no qualms about placing Dorrans on a pedestal.
“Graham Dorrans is the best player at the football club,” said Hughes definitively.
“Managers don’t say things like that — you shouldn’t say it — but, with the career he’s had, he is the best player at this football club.
“There are other players who can do things that he can’t, getting about the pitch, but that’s just because of age.
“In terms of getting the ball and making it happen, he’s a special case.
“The players need to realise that a fully fit Graham Dorrans in our team can do something special.
“We just need to look after him a little bit differently, get the gold dust on him and make sure he’s enjoying his football and pulling the strings.”
Indeed, in an impactful moment of praise, Hughes likened Dorrans’ inspirational influence to former Manchester United and Hibernian midfielder Liam Miller, who sadly passed away in 2018.
“On the first day, I saw Graham warm up and he even warms up differently to everybody else,” continued Hughes. “It’s every cone, every line — everything’s sharp.
“He’s similar to Liam Miller, who I had at Hibs. I used to say to the young kids to get themselves next to him and watch him; watch what he does, how he warms up and how he conducts himself.
“Those are the values we want to bring to the club.”
Dorrans captained Dunfermline to their maiden Championship victory in the Highlands on Saturday.
Owain fon Williams and Dom Thomas have also skippered the side at various points this season.
“I want my captain to play every week and if Graham stays fit and plays every week there’s every chance he’ll be the captain,” added Hughes.
“But does he want that responsibility? He might say he doesn’t or he might say that he wants the responsibility and wants to lead from the front and set the standards.”
— SPFL (@spfl) November 15, 2021
Another player Hughes is visibly excited to work with is mercurial winger Thomas, the match-winner against the Caley Jags.
“I like that wee Glasgow swagger and banter that he has,” smiled Hughes.
“I love all that gallus stuff. You need to let players like that express themselves.
“Dom knows his duties and when he does what he did on Saturday then it is well worth it.”