BY DARREN JOHNSTONE in La Manga – Capital City Press
Queen of the South player/manager James Fowler insists he is targeting the Championship play-offs this season after conceding that the title race will be between Rangers and Hibs.
The Doonhamers defied the odds to finish fourth last term but were beaten at the play-off quarter final stage by the Ibrox club.
Fowler has been forced to rebuild his decimated squad this summer after losing Gavin Reilly, Danny Carmichael, Kevin Holt, Mark Durnan and Ian McShane but the 33-year-old is relishing the challenge of trying to replicate last season’s feat.
The former Kilmarnock midfielder, who is overseeing pre-season training in La Manga this week, said: “It’s a big ask to reach the play-offs again after losing the players we’ve lost but the expectations of the club and the fans will be to do the same again.
“People outside the club probably didn’t give us much of a chance at the start of last season too.
“I think the boys enjoyed the games against Rangers last year and if we can get to the play-offs again it will be a great achievement.
“It’s going to be a tough league again. Hearts went up, Hibs and Rangers are still in it and you have St Mirren coming down.
“You look at Rangers and Hibs possibly being like Hearts last season in terms of being the dominant force in the league, and then everybody else I’m sure will be battling it out for the rest of the places.”
Despite being disappointed at losing five key players, Fowler is delighted for them personally that their talent has been recognised by other clubs.
He added: “The better you do it gets highlighted, the team gets more exposure and then the teams come in for your players.
“It’s good clubs that they’re going to, if they’re going to clubs that are maybe in the same league as you or they’re not bigger, you would be disappointed.
“But the players have gone to Hibs, Hearts, Dundee, Dundee Untied and Ross County, that’s four teams in the Premiership.
“You can’t really grumble with that and you wish them well.”