BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Raith Rovers captain Jason Thomson is adamant Ray McKinnon’s youth revolution is exactly what the Fifers needed – despite it making him feel like an elder statesman.
McKinnon has overseen a remarkable turnaround in personnel since replacing Grant Murray, with experienced figures such as Liam Fox, Dougie Hill, Christian Nade and Martin Scott among those who have departed the club.
A host of gifted youngsters have been snapped up in their stead, in the form of Kyle Benedictus, Mitchel Megginson, Darren Petrie, Lewis Toshney and, after confirming his arrival on loan from Dundee this week, Craig Wighton. Only Ryan McCord, a signing from Alloa, is over the age of 23.
Even at 27, skipper Thomson is being made to feel like a senior citizen – but he has been enthused by the impact of new boss McKinnon and his band of hungry kids.
Former Hearts defender Thomson said: “Every manager has their own methods and way they do things. There has been a bit of a clearance and this is a fresh start with a whole new.
“I think it’s maybe what the club needed, the gaffer has come in with new ideas and is going down the youth route and we are 100 per cent behind him. The gaffer has brought in a lot of younger lads, so that has me feeling my age.
“Aside from the two goalies, you only really have me, Grantie [Anderson] and Mango [Craig Barr] as the old heads. Still, I’m sure I teach them a thing or two as the season goes on!
“You look at someone like Craig Wighton, who is only 17 – it’s amazing to think there’s 10 years of a gap between us. These guys are hungry, with a point to prove and their whole careers ahead of them.
Thomson’s enthusiasm is indicative of the positivity surrounding Rovers as they return to pre-season training.
While sorry to see former boss Murray dismissed last term, he acknowledges the excitement surrounding a “fresh start” and has lofty aspirations for the upcoming campaign.
Thomson continued: “Morton, who will be decent, have come up. St Mirren have come down. So it is going to be another tough Championship and a really exciting season.
“In terms of targets, the manager hasn’t set us any, but I think there will be a whole host of teams looking to get in the playoff places – and we will be no different.”
Meanwhile, McKinnon hopes to announce his seventh signing of the summer tomorrow afternoon, with a central midfielder set to be added to the Rovers ranks.
The Stark’s Park gaffer added: “We’ve got someone lined up who I am very excited about, and have been chasing for the best part of a month.
“Everybody we wanted to get in and every position we have wanted to fill; we have been able to do it. We are in really good shape and after Friday we will probably be satisfied with the squad.”