McKenna: Win over Raith a must for Livingston

Michael McKenna is hoping to start tomorrow after impressing last week
Michael McKenna is hoping to start tomorrow after impressing last week
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Livingston winger Michael McKenna is straight-talking when it comes to assessing his side’s chances of survival this season.

That’s why the former Musselburgh Athletic player has insisted that anything other than three points this weekend might just prove a bridge too far in the club’s ongoing battle against the drop.

Raith Rovers are tomorrow’s visitors to the Energy Assets Arena, a side Livi emphatically swept aside 5-1 in December in what proved to be manager John McGlynn’s penultimate game in charge before he left the club by mutual consent just ten days later.

But, with just 11 games remaining and Livi still rooted to the foot of the Championship – six points adrift of nearest rivals Cowdenbeath and Alloa – time is slowly, but surely, beginning to ebb away.

However, with the Blue Brazil and the Wasps up against Capital rivals Hearts and Hibs respectively this weekend, the opportunity to close the gap to just three points couldn’t be any greater.

“It’s a 100 per cent must-win game tomorrow,” McKenna stressed to the Evening News. “We don’t want to start putting pressure on ourselves but that’s the reality. We’ve got Hibs and Rangers in our next two matches after tomorrow so we must take all three points.

“We’ve already shown we can beat Raith Rovers so there is no reason why we can’t do it again.

“Some people will deny it but I think most will look at your rivals’ fixtures – it’s human nature. Alloa and Cowdenbeath are the two teams we are trying to catch, maybe Dumbarton as well, so they are really the only scores you are interested in after your own game. If they are winning games then we will be struggling.”

That said, Livi will have to raise their performance significantly against Grant Murray’s outfit if they are to avoid defeat, last Saturday’s shambolic display at the Falkirk Stadium branded the worst performance boss Mark Burchill has encountered since his time at the helm – an opinion that is shared by 24-year-old McKenna.

“That was the worst first half of football that we’ve played since I’ve been here,” McKenna admitted. “But credit to Falkirk because they played well.

“You just can’t start games like we did where it seemed as if a few people weren’t wanting to get on the ball.

“I could even see from the sidelines that we were lost and we didn’t work hard enough. It was a bad day at the office but that can’t happen again and we’re going to have to be much better against Raith if we are to take anything from the match.”

McKenna has endured a frustrating time of late, used sparingly and starting just one of Burchill’s nine games in charge. However, after a positive second-half showing against the Falkirk defence six days ago, McKenna is eager to make an impression from the beginning this time round.

“Since the manager has come in he’s chopped and changed the team a bit.

“I think some of the games where I haven’t featured we have played well but I can’t complain about that. He’s maybe using me a bit different to how I was being used before [under John McGlynn]. But I think it’s maybe worked better as I’ve come off the bench and I think I’ve made more of an impact. But I feel I’m ready to start tomorrow and can play a full 90 minutes rather than just a half or twenty minutes.

“It’s not nice not playing but it’s a team game and if they are putting in the performances and your not in then that’s just the way it goes – you can’t change it.

“But, after last weekend’s defeat to Falkirk, things didn’t go so well so that’s when you’re hoping to get a run.

“I think myself and Myles [Hippolyte] did change the game when we came on so I’m hoping to start tomorrow.”

Defender Callum Fordyce will miss tomorrow’s clash after suffering a broken hand. He is expected to be sidelined for a couple of weeks, but captain Jason Talbot, Kyle Jacobs and Nejc Praprotnik all return after missing last weekend’s defeat through suspension.