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James McPake says Dunfermline ‘must strengthen squad’ and gives update on two fitness concerns

Dunfermline manager James McPake.
Dunfermline manager James McPake.

Dunfermline manager James McPake said the makeshift side that finished in the defeat to Kilmarnock proves he must strengthen his squad.

The Pars completed their preseason schedule with a 1-0 defeat to Derek McInnes’ side at East End Park.

Goalkeeper Deniz Mehmet was named in the starting XI but didn’t feature after feeling discomfort in the warm-up.

He was replaced by trialist Ryan Mullen, formerly a youth at Celtic. His mistake led to the only goal of the game and came sandwiched between two very good saves.

Rhys Breen was then forced off with an injury in the second half, meaning Chris Hamilton dropped into defence and Kevin O’Hara and Craig Wighton finished the game as part of a midfield three.

Not clinical enough

“It was a good run out,” said McPake. “I won’t stand here and kid on, I don’t like losing.

“The players don’t like losing I think they gave us everything.

“We pick up a couple of injuries and people are going into different positions.

“We need to strengthen the squad, that’s evident, particularly after tonight.

“You’re asking Kevin O’Hara and Craig Wighton to go into a midfield three and Chris Hamilton to go into centre-back.

Dunfermline manager James McPake and assistant Dave Mackay

“We had two out-and-out No 9s playing, which was a bit different and caused Kilmarnock some problems.

“We just weren’t clinical enough.”.

The manager confirmed that Mehmet picked up a niggle and his absence was a precaution.

On Breen, he added: “He’ll be fine. I think Breeny would have stayed out there, Deniz will be fine.

“We’re at a point where you don’t want to be taking chances and we want to get it right for Saturday [versus East Fife].

‘Lots of positives to take’

McPake reiterated how hard he had been pushing his players in training, which inevitably has an impact on performances in these friendlies.

He said he had got what he needed out of the period and has is pleased with his players’ response.

“To a man they’ve worked really hard – as I said before, they are coming into this very tired, they trained very hard [on Monday],” he said.

“They played on Saturday and had their recovery on Sunday. But as a preseason it’s been good.

“Preseason is used as a tool to get what you need out of players and we’ve certainly got that.

“There were lots of positives to take. It’s a shortened preseason – we’re building them towards a real competitive game on Saturday that we need to be up for.”

Dunfermline start their season on Saturday in the Premier Sports Cup versus East Fife at Bayview.

3 talking points from Dunfermline v Kilmarnock as injury to Deniz Mehmet sees young trialist start in goals

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