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John Hughes will turn to old pals John Collins and Brian Rice to help Dunfermline beat Championship drop

Sounding boards: Hughes can call on Collins, left, and Rice
Sounding boards: Hughes can call on Collins, left, and Rice

John Hughes hopes that calling in favours from confidants John Collins and Brian Rice can help Dunfermline beat the drop this season.

Hughes has been full of praise for the work of assistants Steven Whittaker and Greg Shields since he took over from Peter Grant in November.

But he has also been tapping into the extensive football knowledge of former number two Rice and Collins, his ex-Celtic team-mate who he also worked with briefly at Livingston.

Rice was in the East End Park stand for Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Hamilton Accies, the club where ‘Chipper’ was manager at the start of the season.

Dunfermline boss John Hughes
Dunfermline boss John Hughes has sought counsel from two old friends

And Hughes has revealed both pals have offered a fresh pair of eyes on an informal basis in recent weeks as he tries everything to haul the Pars away from relegation trouble in the Championship.

He said: “If it’s not Chipper, it’s John Collins along at the game.

“The two of them are now and then on the training pitch, just to come and watch the training.

“You’re always looking to see if the players are implementing the work you’re doing on the training pitch.

“It’s always nice to get that help and that counsel.

“It was Chipper last Saturday and I had Collins two weeks prior to that.

“Anybody that’s coming along that knows the game, if they’re on my side, I’ll try to use them to help my team.”

John Collins celebrates after equalising for Scotland against Brazil in the opening game of France '98
John Collins celebrates after equalising for Scotland against Brazil in the opening game of France ’98

Meanwhile, Hughes is confident of being able to recall Graham Dorrans after the former Scotland internationalist’s brush with Covid-19.

The ex-Rangers, Livingston, West Brom and Norwich City midfielder has not featured since the Boxing Day defeat to Arbroath after being forced to self-isolate.

He added: “We have to be very, very careful after Covid. He has been building it up this week and he will be available for selection.

Hughes, who reported that Dom Thomas is on the road to recovery but probably still a fortnight away from returning following knee surgery, is also eyeing a potential change of role for Dorrans.

Change of role for Graham Dorrans?

He explained: “I might have another thing up my sleeve for Graham Dorrans. I think Graham could possibly be the best number 10 at the club.

“He is certainly a fantastic footballer. If we could get him in between the lines and in the pockets, he could scores us goals.

“To do that I’d like to play practice matches and it is a conversation that I’d have to have with him.

“But a fit and healthy Graham Dorrans could play anywhere in the Dunfermline team.”

Efe Ambrose: John Hughes claims St Johnstone star harder to track down than ‘Lord Lucan’ as Dunfermline boss confirms interest in ex-Celtic and Hibs man

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