BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
ALLAN Johnston insists he does not envisage any problems in sorting out his own future after initial discussions with the Dunfermline hierarchy following the club’s League One title triumph at the weekend.
The Pars boss is adamant he is more concerned with successfully tying up his players on new deals, with none of his first-team squad currently committed beyond the end of the season.
The Fifers sealed promotion back to the Championship thanks to Saturday’s win over Brechin City and Peterhead’s surprise defeat to Cowdenbeath, allowing planning for next term to begin in earnest.
Managing director Ross McArthur has made concluding fresh terms with Johnston his priority but, with only three youth players contracted for next season, the manager himself claims his prime consideration is now to sort out his squad’s future.
Johnston, whose current deal expires in the summer, said: “We’ve just had an initial chat about my own situation and hopefully we get something sorted out.
“I’m not worried about that, I’m sure it’ll be fine.
“My priority is the players, because without good players you’ll struggle.
“That’s the main priority and my contract, and the rest of the staff’s contracts, will happen and will get worked out.
“We’ll sort something out, I’m sure it will be okay.
“But the main priority is the players, first and foremost.
“We’ve got to start talking to the players but it’s not going to happen overnight.
“It’s going to take a wee while, especially with the number of players who are out of contract.
“We’ve just got to be patient but hopefully we can get the players signed up, because they’re the most important ones.”
Failure to go up from Scotland’s third-tier for a third successive season would almost certainly have resulted in part-time football at East End Park.
However, Johnston is hopeful the lure of helping to restore the good times back to the Fife club, after the dark days of administration in 2013, will help convince players to stay on.
With the likes of Aberdeen, Motherwell and Steven Pressley’s Fleetwood Town linked with 29-goal top scorer Faissal El Bakhtaoui, who it is understood was also watched by Rangers in scoring a stunning hat-trick at the weekend, it may prove difficult to hang on to the French-Moroccan.
And, with Celtic, Brighton and Nottingham Forest, credited with an interest in 17-year-old striker PJ Crossan, Johnston is fully aware this season’s success will have its possible drawbacks.
However, he is hopeful the carrot of a push for success in the Championship will prove mouthwatering for most.
He added: “I think the players have enjoyed the season and they know how big a club this is as well.
“Hopefully they’ll want to be part of it next season, because we want to be successful next year as well.
“Hopefully that’s a help in trying to get them back on board.
“It’s going to take a wee bit of time going through all the players and talking to all the players.
“We’ve just got to take our time and we’re lucky enough to be in a really good position to be able to do that.
“But we want to get the players on board and to look at other players as well.”