BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Dunfermline are facing a defensive crisis ahead of their mouth-watering Scottish Cup clash against Ross County.
Key centre-back Marc McAusland has been ruled out with an ankle injury after limping out of last weekend’s League One win over local rivals Cowdenbeath. The minor ligament damage is likely to keep the former St Mirren stopper out of action for around four weeks.
He joins a list of defenders on the treatment table which already includes club captain Callum Fordyce, Lewis Martin and Ryan Williamson, leaving the Pars actively seeking reinforcements during January.
Dunfermline manager Allan Johnston confirmed: “Marc will be a big loss for us. You just need to look at the defensive record we have had since he came in.
“Marc and Ben Richards-Everton are a good partnership and Marc will be missed, but hopefully we can cope with that.
“It is another defender out. Lewis Martin is out, so is Callum Force and Ryan Williamson. You basically have a whole back four missing – we have been really unlucky this year.
“We are looking at a couple of different options ahead of Saturday, including maybe getting someone in on loan. Certainly, we are struggling for defenders – we only really have three – so we are in desperate need of a couple in and hopefully we can do that in the next few days.”
Meanwhile, Johnston insists Faissal El Bakhtaoui is going nowhere during the current transfer window.
The French-Moroccan marksman, who has scored 18 goals this term and claimed August’s League One player of the month award, has been linked with a move away from East End Park this month.
However, Johnston is adamant that all of his key players are indispensable as Dunfermline chase a promotion which could prove the difference between the club being full-time or part-time next season.
He said bluntly: “We can’t afford to let any of our best players go if we have ambitions to win the league – which we do. We have a tight squad as it is.
“Nobody has even spoken to the club about Faissal and I don’t think we would entertain it anyway. This season is too important for this football club to lose good players.”