BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
East Fife player/manager Gary Naysmith admits he will need to utilise all of his experience as he attempts to guide one of the youngest squads in Scottish football to the League Two title.
The Methil men have surged to within two points of leaders Elgin following a run of just one defeat in nine matches – all while handing opportunities to an impressive array of young talent.
Eight of the 11 players who started their 2-1 win against Arbroath last weekend were aged 23 or younger, including Liam Kelly, Ali Coote and Jamie Insall – on loan from Rangers, Dundee United and Hibs respectively – and Falkirk-bound Nathan Austin.
Discounting Naysmith, 37, the average age of their side against the Red Lichties was just 22 – and the former Scotland star acknowledges that he needs to keep his young guns focused.
The Fifers could go top this afternoon if they defeat Stirling and Elgin slip up in their visit to fellow Highlanders Montrose.
Naysmith said: “It’s about keeping the focus because this will be the first time most of these boys have ever had any real pressure applied, let alone going for a league title.
“However, they have handled it really well up until this point and it is up to me to ensure that continues and use all of my experience to manage the lads properly.
“We knew we would have to recruit young players when the budget was cut at the start of the season and, to have a 17-year-old and a 18-year-old starting is a rarity, but they are talented boys and they are doing the business.
“The next few games are Stirling, who are third, Queen’s Park, who are fourth, and then we have the leaders, Elgin. These are big games coming up and hopefully we can keep this run going.”