BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
David Bates should have been preparing to turn out for League One basement boys Brechin City this weekend – but because of Raith Rovers’ injury crisis is instead looking forward to a dream clash with Rangers.
The 19-year-old was farmed out to Brechin in September to further his first-team experience, but was recalled from his loan last week when Rovers were hit with a defensive dilemma.
The Kirkcaldy kid, who made 10 appearances for Brechin, was plunged straight into the Stark’s Park line-up for last weekend’s Scottish Cup win over Elgin City.
And, with Jason Thomson and Craig Barr definitely out and massive doubts over the fitness of Kyle Benedictus and Lewis Toshney, the teenager is now gearing up for the biggest game of his career.
He said: “It was really good at Brechin. There are a lot of great lads there and the team is good despite the fact they are still bottom of the league.
“The gaffer here spoke to me before I went saying that he thought I should go and get more experience, not just sit on the bench on a Saturday. Instead, he wanted me to play first-team games to learn a lot more – and I did.
“I wouldn’t have liked to be recalled just to sit on the bench so it was good that I played up in Elgin. It was great to get a game.
“And hopefully I can play again this weekend. Rangers are a good side but hopefully we can catch them on an off day.
“It would definitely be the biggest game of my career so far if I started.”
Raith will wait for fitness reports on Toshney, Benedictus, Grant Anderson, Ryan McCord, Mitch Megginson and Mark Stewart before deciding on a line-up to face Rangers.
Manager Ray McKinnon said: “We’re down to the bare bones, we’re struggling to put together a team. I can’t believe the number of injuries we’ve been hit with this season.
“It’s not ideal preparation for facing Rangers.
“But I can’t wait for the game. Somebody’s got to beat them and why not us? We’re more than capable, if we keep playing the way we’ve been playing performance-wise.”