BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
ALLAN Johnston has warned his Dunfermline champions they must be realistic in their contract demands after revealing skipper Andy Geggan is attracting interest from Partick Thistle.
The Pars boss was celebrating yesterday when defender Lewis Martin penned a new two-year deal tying him to the League One winners until 2018.
But the 20-year-old is only the fourth player – after fellow youngster Ryan Williamson and keepers Sean Murdoch and Cammy Gill – to commit himself to the Fifers for life in the Championship next term.
Every other member of the East End Park first-team squad is out of contract in the summer and Johnston admits negotiations could prove tricky as players seek a financial boost and other clubs seek to cherry-pick the Pars’ best talent.
He said: “A few of our players have been attracting interest, even from Premiership clubs.
“It makes it really difficult to get them signed up when a guy like Andy Geggan has been attracting interest from a team like Partick Thistle.
“It shows you it’s going to be difficult for us to keep guys like that. They want to keep their options open.
“Dunfermline’s a big club and probably paying good money for the league we were in this season.
“Everybody expects a lot more money going up to the Championship and that’s not the position we’re in.
“We would love to keep the boys together but we have to be realistic as well. We’re in the Championship, we’re not in the Premiership, so we’re not going to be able to pay Premiership wages.
“It’s Championship wages and hopefully we can still manage to keep the nucleus of the squad. If not, that’s part and parcel of football.”
Martin began the season as a mainstay of Dunfermline’s defence but was sidelined briefly by the effects of a car crash in September and then for longer by illness and injury around the turn of the year.
The Scotland under-19 cap returned to the side for the first time in four months against Forfar last weekend and Johnston is thrilled to have agreed terms with the versatile youngster.
He added: “Lewis Martin has signed up for another two years and that’s a bonus.
“At the start of the season he was one of those players doing really well and he can play different positions.
“He’s played a lot of first-team games for his age, so that’s a great addition to get him signed up.
“He’s at a great age and he’s desperate to play. He’s had a couple of setbacks this season, with the car crash and illness.
“But before that he was flying and he was back to himself last weekend.”