ALLAN JOHNSTON has told his Dunfermline squad they are playing for new contracts as the Pars look to finish the season on a high.
The Pars are stuck in no-man’s land in sixth place in the Championship – eight points above bottom side St Mirren and 12 points below fourth-placed Dundee United with nine matches remaining.
They have not given up hope of piecing together a late push for a play-off place and are desperate for three points at home to Ayr United on Saturday to boost their chances.
But Johnston admits a positive climax to the campaign will also help make up his and the club’s minds on fresh deals for the East End Park squad.
He said: “It’s a big game this weekend. They’re all big games at this stage of the season, and it would be great to put a run together and put a bit of pressure on the teams above us.
“Players are also playing for contracts for next season as well. That’s just the nature of football. Gone are the days when you would get four and three-year contracts.
“Come the end of the season, there are a lot of boys out of contract.
“It makes life a lot easier if you manage to go on a run, get wins and finish high up the table.
“Then it’s easier for myself to get contracts sorted and try to get players tied up for next season.”
Johnston believes Ayr, now just a point above St Mirren at the foot of the table, will travel to Fife under pressure following the Buddies’ 3-2 victory over Dundee United on Wednesday night.
But, after the teams were firm enemies last season in League One, the Pars boss is aware the Honest Men will be highly motivated under former East End Park player Ian McCall.
He added: “It’s a team we know well. There’s been a big rivalry over the last couple of seasons and they’ve got a few people who used to be here as well, from the manager, big Farid [El Alagui] and Paddy Boyle as well.
“So that always adds a wee bit more spice to a game, but it’s already a big game for both clubs, I think.
“If you look at the league and see St Mirren getting the win against United, it means Ayr United need to come and win the game. That should suit us.”