BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Allan Johnston has urged his Dunfermline side not to be distracted from their goal of the League One title after top scorer Faissal El Bakhtaoui was linked with a possible move to Motherwell.
The Premiership outfit are said to be ready to open pre-contract talks with the French-Moroccan, whose current deal with the Pars expires at the end of the season.
The 23-year-old, who arrived at East End Park in 2012 with little experience of 11-a-side football, having mostly played the shortened indoor game of futsal in France, has netted 20 times in an impressive campaign.
Hibernian are amongst the teams who have previously been credited with an interest in him but Motherwell look set to steal a march on any other potential suitors by holding negotiations with the marksman.
With a home clash tomorrow with Ayr United that could potentially prove pivotal to Dunfermline’s title hopes, Johnston yesterday refused to address whether El Bakhtaoui has been offered fresh terms by the Fifers.
However, he is hopeful any uncertainty over his players’ futures will be firmly put to one side as they chase promotion back to the Championship.
He said: “I’m sure there will be loads of teams wanting to talk to some of our players.
“But we’ve got massive games coming up and we’ve just got to make sure we’re fully focused on that.
“Everybody’s doing it for themselves anyway, but you need to put performances on to either earn a contract here or elsewhere.
“We can’t afford any distractions. We’ve just got to focus on the football.
“It’s a huge game against Ayr, one that will set a marker down if we can get a result, and that’s what we’ve got to focus on.”
Meanwhile, Dunfermline could extend their advantage over Ayr to a commanding 13 points with victory tomorrow.
However, the Pars boss believes Peterhead are firmly in the running now after leapfrogging the Honest Men into second place, and to within eight points of the Fifers, last weekend.
With Peterhead having gone 13 games undefeated, Johnston added: “I think the two of them are chasing us. If you look at Peterhead’s run, the form they’re in at the moment is incredible – the amount of goals they’ve scored, the amount of wins they’ve picked up. They’re the form team at the moment.
“We’ve got to concentrate on ourselves. If we keep getting results and putting in performances like we have been then we’ll be in a good position at the end of the season.
“It’s all about what we do. We just concentrate on ourselves anyway; it doesn’t matter about Ayr and their confidence, it’s about us and our confidence and how we play.
“We’ll just focus on ourselves, as we do every week. We expect to go and beat teams every week, no matter who we’re playing, and we’ll go and have a go, like we do every week.”