Jim Jefferies insists Dunfermline’s young cup hopefuls deserve huge credit for providing a bright spot in a dark season for the troubled club.
The Pars’ under-20s take on their Celtic counterparts at Hampden tomorrow evening to contest the SFA Youth Cup final in a campaign in which many of them have found themselves thrown into a relegation battle at first-team level.
The raft of redundancies forced on the Fifers’ first-team squad by administration left Jefferies with no option but to shore up his side with the teenagers who had already impressed him, both with their on-field displays and the way they had handled the club’s off-field turmoil.
Eight of the East End Park outfit that drew 3-3 with champions Partick Thistle on Saturday are in the running to feature for the under-20s at the national stadium tomorrow before returning to first-team duties on Saturday in a bid to get the win over Airdrie United that will guarantee First Division status for Dunfermline.
Jefferies believes all his players deserve massive praise for the way they have handled themselves through months of financial uncertainty.
He said: “It’s been great to see the success of the youngsters that have come through. The ones that have come in have been a joy to work with.
“Considering what they faced, they’ve been a credit to themselves and the club.
“It must have been really difficult, and I don’t think people appreciate how difficult. It’s all very, very hard to understand how it has affected the players. We’ve had to go through that process, where players lost their jobs, but when you see the kids that have come through it gives you a big boost.”
Meanwhile, Dunfermline’s hopes for a bright future have been underlined with the news that one of their youth players is to go on trial with English champions Manchester United.
Josh Donaldson, goalkeeper with the Pars’ under-13 side, is set to head to United’s Carrington training ground for training “throughout the next few years”, according to the East End Park club.
Dunfermline’s head of youth, Stephen Wright, said: “This is excellent news for young Josh as he has been performing brilliantly whilst playing with our under-13 squad.
“It’s great for everyone associated with our youth department that some of our young talent is being recognised by Premiership clubs.”