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Dunfermline’s Rhys Breen on new manager methods and tease from teammates over how defender has ‘changed’ after return

Dunfermline defender Rhys Breen.
Dunfermline defender Rhys Breen.

Dunfermline centre-back Rhys Breen has praised his manager’s decision to bring the players back for an early start.

He also revealed that a few teammates have said the defender has come back a different player after he picked up two assists in two friendly matches.

The Pars scored eight without reply over two preseason games versus Cove Rangers and Forfar.

At one point in the second half of the latter, Breen found himself running at an opposing defender before laying it off to Kevin O’Hara to finish.

The former Rangers youth said his memory is hazy for the initial build-up but puts it down to the ethic new boss James McPake is instilling in the squad.

“We have been told if we lose the ball to try and win it back as quickly as possible,” said Breen.

“I saw my opportunity and I thought ‘why not’.

‘I kind of shocked myself with that’

The 22-year-old fought the urge to panic in unfamiliar territory before slipping the ball to his teammate.

That assist added to the one he picked up in the previous match, something not typically part of his game.

He added: “A couple of boys have been saying ‘you have changed since you came back!’.

“I kind of shocked myself with that. Defending is obviously my main job but if I can add that to my game it will help not only myself but the team.”

Rhys Breen leaps for a header.

In both friendlies Breen has started alongside Kyle Benedictus – who he calls “a cracking big guy” he has already formed a close bond with – and they have yet to concede a goal.

McPake has stressed that it is still preseason, however, as he continues working hard to add to his squad.

With preseason comes a lot of fitness work, though Breen appreciates its rewards.

McPake slowly introducing tactical elements to training

The earlier start has also allowed the manager to drip-feed instructions as the new season approaches.

“He is adding small things at every training session,” said Breen, who joined the Pars on a two-year deal last summer.

“It is early in the season but in the games we have played we have looked solid off the ball.

“He has spoken about the work rate – and if you have that the football will do the talking for itself.

Former Dundee manager James McPake.
James McPake has told his players about the importance of work rate.

“The work rate is 100% there and we have given ourselves that opportunity because everybody has come back fit.”

“The training sessions don’t get easier, but I thrive off that.

“I love the hard work, the challenge – and sometimes it is more the mental side of it more than anything else.

“You are forcing yourself to keep going in the runs. Nobody really likes running but when you get it done and making your times, you feel like a new man.”

Dunfermline travel to Ochilview Park on Saturday to take on Stenhousemuir in a behind-closed-doors friendly before hosting Kilmarnock on Tuesday in their final preseason match.

James McPake in vow to use Dunfermline ‘sponges’ this season as young players make their mark

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