BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
James Craigen was allowed a quiet family Christmas by Raith Rovers boss Ray McKinnon – and is now desperate to ensure the New Year comes in with a bang against Hibernian this afternoon.
Whilst his team-mates were going through a training session on Christmas Day, the former Partick Thistle player had been given special dispensation to travel to his parents’ home in Preston 24 hours earlier.
With Raith’s home clash with Alloa Athletic falling foul of the wet weather on Boxing Day, the 24-year-old got a longer break than expected.
But, after the welcome festive lay-off, the former Great Britain students cap is now hopeful of making the perfect start to 2016.
He said: “I went back to Preston for Christmas, which was really good of the gaffer as I had not seen my family for a while.
“I trained on Christmas Eve and then I went down there. The rest of the lads had a light session on Christmas morning so I also went for jog just to keep ticking over.
“I was ready to come back for the game on Boxing Day but unfortunately it was off so I was able to stay there for another day or so.
“We are quite confident going to Easter Road as we haven’t been beaten for a while. I think we can go there and give it a go.
“We need to start taking points off the top three teams – we haven’t done that so far this season.
“It is something we need to do, so hopefully we can start the New Year with a bang and take something out of the game.”
Raith’s last outing, back on December 18, saw them move three points clear in fourth spot thanks to a 2-1 win over Morton, with Craigen netting the 90th-minute winner from the spot.
However, the Stark’s Park outfit remain 14 points behind Hibs and Falkirk above them and Craigen accepts that his side face a likely three-way scramble for just one play-off spot this season.
He added: “Realistically, I think there will be one place available. I think it is between three teams, ourselves, Morton and Queen of the South.
“We have put ourselves in a good position. We will just have to take each game as it comes and, as I said, start taking points off the teams above us.
“It is all very well beating teams around us but doing that to the teams above us would send out a message.”