BY IAIN COLLIN –[email protected]_sport
RAITH Rovers are set to hand Conor Brennan an instant debut after moving for the freed Kilmarnock youngster to solve their goalkeeping crisis.
Brennan trained with Rovers yesterday after the Championship pace-setters were left without a fit number one ahead of Saturday’s trip to face Dundee United.
Regular first-choice Kevin Cuthbert has been unable to start the last two matches because of a dead leg and his replacement, the on-loan Aberdeen goalie, Aaron Lennox, sustained a hamstring injury in Saturday’s Fife derby victory over Dunfermline.
Lennox soldiered on for the full 90 minutes and kept a clean sheet in the 2-0 win but is now expected to be out of action for at least a month, whilst Cuthbert is still not deemed fit enough to play.
With manager Gary Locke only having two keepers in his first-team squad, the two injuries have left him with a massive headache for the journey to Tannadice.
However, he has turned to a well-known figure after Brennan – a Northern Ireland under-21 cap who made seven first-team appearances for Killie before leaving Rugby Park in the summer – was drafted in yesterday.
Locke said: “Its been a bit of a nightmare but we’re hopeful of signing a goalkeeper, Conor Brennan, who I had at Kilmarnock.
“I knew he was available and I’m hopeful of getting him in.
“I’ll be delighted if I can get Conor in. He’s got a wee bit of experience, he has played first-team football and he’s a Northern Ireland under-21 international.
“He’s got a decent pedigree and the club is hopefully again pushing the boat out a wee bit to try to get a goalie in, because it’s a big problem for us.
“Kevin’s still struggling. He’s been on the bench for the last couple of games and I expected it to heal a bit quicker, but it’s in an awkward position and it’s causing a fair bit of discomfort.
“I’ve been told by the physio Kevin won’t be available for Saturday and we just have to wait to see how it settles down. At the moment, its not settling down very well. So, he’s out.
“Aaron has a grade two hamstring injury. You’re talking him being out for a minimum of four weeks.”
It is not the ideal preparation for a match which not only pitches Raith against one of the favourites for promotion but also against former manager Ray McKinnon, who left for United in the summer after steering Rovers to the play-offs last term.
Locke added: “Ray did a great job here, I said that when I got the job, and he’s left a really good squad.
“So, he will know a lot about us, because he’s worked with a lot of these lads and knows what they’re capable of.
“But I’m the same. I’ve got (assistant) Darren (Jackson) there who has worked with quite a few of the Dundee United lads.
“I hope the two of them get the reception they deserve, because Darren did a great job at United and Ray did a great job here.
“But the main thing for us is that we focus on Raith and hopefully get three points.”