Raith boss Ray McKinnon admits he is facing a big defensive headache for tomorrow’s game against Livingston over who to draft in to replace his three suspended centre-halves.
Kyle Benedictus, Lewis Toshney and David Bates are all banned for the match with the Stark’s Park boss admitting he is down to the “absolute bare bones” at the back.
He does have options, including Craig Barr who has just returned from long-term injury, but McKinnon admits that no matter what he ultimately decides in terms of team selection, further down the line he will have a problem of a much nicer kind.
The manager said: “Craig Barr is in my thoughts for Saturday. He played 90 minutes for the first time this season for the Under-20s on Monday and scored.
“I don’t want to throw him to the wolves if he’s not quite ready, because Livingston are good up top.
“But at the same time we are down to the absolute bare bones.
“We could move Jason Thomson into right-sided centre-half but he’s outstanding at right-back so we would love someone else there.
“We’ve got options with the likes of Scott Robertson at centre-half and Craig, while Iain Davidson is back fit again as well.
“Hopefully Craig comes through training and gives me an option.
“It depends on how he feels, mentally. I would hate to throw him in there if he’s not ready, but the adrenaline might get him through it, so he’s in my thoughts.
“I’ll have headaches in the coming weeks about who to leave out.
“If Craig does play on Saturday, we’ll have Lewis Toshney and David Bates coming back and Kyle Benedictus will be back in a few weeks.
“We’ll be really solid at the back in terms of numbers.
“We’re okay in midfield and we’ve added up top, so we’ve actually got a strong enough squad for the rest of the season with everybody fit.
“It’s taken us a while to get here and then we get hit with these suspensions.
“We’re not getting it easy but hopefully things are getting better.”
Three out of Raith’s next four games are at home and McKinnon has identified this time as a crucial period if his side hopes to realise their play-off dreams.
He added: “What a tough run we’ve had, with Hibs twice and Falkirk and Rangers, but we’ve performed well in every game. We just need to stick the ball in the net.
“Maybe last week, getting the two goals, might just open the floodgates for us, in terms of confidence and so on.
“I thought we could have won the game at the weekend, and probably should have, with the way we played in the second-half.
“Getting Ryan Hardie from Rangers gives us options, so maybe this is the turning point.
“If we want to go and have a bash at it, we’ve got to go and try and get results from the next three or four games.”
Tomorrow is also set to be an emotional day at Stark’s Park as everyone connected with the club remembers popular media officer Ally Gourlay who passed away recently.
And McKinnon admitted he hopes his players can pay a tribute of their own by collecting all three points.
He added: “I’m hoping Ally will be helping us put the ball in that net on Saturday.
“It will be a sad day, but it’s maybe a day to remember all the good things about him.
“He’ll certainly be in our thoughts before the game and then hopefully we can get a result for him. That’s the biggest thing for us this week.”