BY IAIN COLLIN – Capital City Press
Allan Johnston expects free-scoring Faissal El Bakhtaoui to have captured the attention of other clubs – but he insists Dunfermline would be ‘crazy’ to allow their top talents to leave.
El Bakhtaoui has begun the season in incredible form, netting an astonishing 11 goals in seven matches, including a fifth brace in Tuesday’s League Cup triumph over Premiership Dundee.
The Frenchman, who rumours suggest may be interesting Hibernian, has scored in all but one of his outings so far, with the Fifers suffering their sole defeat when he failed to get on the score-sheet against Peterhead last weekend.
The East End Park outfit’s reward for this week’s cup success is an away tie against Dundee United in the last 16 and Johnston insists he will need all his best players if they are achieve their ambitions in both cup and League One this term.
Asked if he expected any players to depart his squad before the forthcoming transfer deadline, Johnston said: “No, with the numbers we’ve got we couldn’t afford to let that happen.
“The boys have been doing excellently and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s teams looking at our players.
“But, as a club, we would be crazy to let any of our best players go.
“If we want to achieve promotion and do well in the cups we’ve got to keep our best players.
“Faiss has got incredible talent, he’s going to have a big future if he keeps working as hard as what he’s doing, and improving all the time.
“That’s what we’re seeing, he’s improving all the time.
“We’ve also got guys like Michael Moffat and Ryan Wallace, who are banging in the goals as well. So, we’re quite fortunate in that department.”
Meanwhile, Dunfermline are running the rule over former Rangers midfielder Rhys McCabe and Queen’s Park youth product Shaun Rooney, who was recently on trial with Hearts.
With Robbie Neilson opting not to offer Rooney a contract, Partick Thistle are said to be keen on the 19-year-old defender.
However, he is currently training with the Pars, having been on the bench for them as a trialist last Saturday against Peterhead.
Johnston said: “Shaun’s been in training. He’s a really young lad, so there’s a lot of interest in him. We’re obviously one of the clubs interested and he looks a good prospect.
“He’s at a good age and we’ll just have to see how it develops from there.”
McCabe has been on trial with St Johnstone and Hibernian and been linked with interest from Livingston this summer, but Johnston was coy on the likelihood of a Dunfermline offer for the 23-year-old.
He added: “Rhys has got a lot of talent and has been in training as well.
“There’s been a few in and, to be fair, there might be a couple more coming in as well.
“I’ve been saying it for about a month now, but hopefully in the next couple of weeks we can get signings on board and get players who are talented and want to come in and do well; they’ve got to be the right type.”