Captain Paul Paton says Dunfermline can be Championship dark horses

Paul Paton believes Dunfermline can be the dark horses in the Championship this season and realise the dream of returning to the top flight.

Midfielder Paul Paton has been appointed Dunfermlines new captain having arrived at East End Park during the summer and is determined to lead his side back to the Premiership. Picture: SNS.

Many are predicting it will be a straight fight between his old club Dundee United and Dundee.

But new Pars captain Paton reckons they can show they are genuine challengers when they open the season tonight at home against the Dens Park club.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The midfielder said: “People talk about Dundee United and Dundee, but Dunfermline are a big club with a big fan base. We are the same (as them) and it would be great to be back in the top flight.

“The Championship will be as competitive as ever. I’ve seen a few of the teams on television and the standard has gone up since I last won this league with Partick Thistle.

“The pressure is probably on teams elsewhere. We have a young side – apart from me!

“If you are talking about size of budgets and stuff then there are teams who would probably expect to be challenging to go up.

“But we have a good squad here and we will put pressure on ourselves to compete.”

Paton was pleasantly surprised when head coach Stevie Crawford appointed him club captain after he signed up in the summer.

And he praised former skipper Lee Ashcroft for dealing with the situation so well.

He said: “I think I’ve always been a leader but I didn’t expect to join as captain.

“The manager must have seen the impact I had on the squad and made the decision but big Lee [pictured] has been fantastic with me since I came in the door.

“I’m enjoying being one of the more senior guys now. I want to help these guys have a better career than I’ve had.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a decent career, but it would be great to see these boys kick on and go further.”

Paton reckons he’s a calmer figure now after getting into a few scrapes when he was younger.

He said: “I wouldn’t say I was hard work as a young player. I played with some characters who must have tested a few managers and captains over the years, that’s for sure!

“But I tended to keep my head down and I got through with hard work and dedication.

“I’ve been through a fair few pre-seasons now but this one was probably the hardest I’ve done.

“The manager, Greg Shields and Jason Dair worked us really hard every day, there was a lot of track running and they tested us mentally and physically every day.

“But we managed to get through it and I’m feeling good. There’s still plenty of miles in the tank and I’m hoping to be at Dunfermline for a good few years.

“It’s a great game to start. It’s on TV and there will be a big turnout. I watched Dundee last week and they look a decent side.

“But so are we and we’ll be looking to get off to a good start and build from there.”