John Hughes believes the recapture of Lewis Martin could prove to be Dunfermline’s BEST bit of January business.
Martin, 25, has not played a competitive game since March 2020 after battling a mystery illness which left him with excruciating pain in his hands and feet.
Although a Pars youth product — he has made 158 appearances for the club — the defender’s contract briefly expired at the tail end of last year.
However, he continued to train with the Fife outfit and, having recovered from those persistent health issues, swiftly caught the eye of Hughes.
As such, Martin landed a deal until the end of the season and was immediately named on the bench for Sunday’s 0-0 draw against Raith Rovers.
And Hughes believes his heady mix of determination, quality and versatility could make him an invaluable ‘arrival’.
“He could be our best signing because of what the club means to him, what he brings on the training pitch and the fact he knows the club inside-out,” lauded Hughes.
“You don’t have to babysit these guys.
“I like the way Lewis goes about his work, in terms of his demands on his teammates on the training pitch. He has licence from me to do that. He sets a standard.
“We still have the reins on him a little bit — but it won’t be too long before he is in the first team and, if he is, then we might be the better for it.
“His contract is until the end of the season but it is up to him to force his way into the first team to give us a decision to make in the summer.
“Lewis’ ability is not in question. He just needs to get into the team and get a run of games.”
If Martin’s quality is undeniable, then so is his fortitude.
And Hughes reckons the Bonnybridge boy is due some good fortune after a being robbed of two years’ worth of football.
“Lewis had a horrendous time but, since I have come in, he has done a lot of work and he just gets his head down,” lauded Hughes.
“He’s played two friendly matches [against Hibs and Livingston] and his fitness levels are not bad. He is one who can play in a number of positions — all across the back-line or in midfield.
“I just hope, for his sake, that Lady Luck shines on him a wee bit, he stays injury free and gets himself in that first team.”