Bairns talk double dutch

Falkirk negotiate for two players from Holland

By Julian Peck

SPORTS EDITOR

FALKIRK are currently holding talks in an attempt to sign two Dutch players until the end of the year.

Thomas Litjens (21) and Fouzi Mesaoudi (24) have impressed boss John Hughes while training with the Bairns for the last two weeks.

Central defender Litjens, formerly of Dutch premier division side Roda JC, and attacking midfielder Mesaoudi, who used to ply his trade at first division outfit FC Haarlem, are both free-agents.

They have formerly been on trial with both Chelsea and Fulham and are currently represented by the English PFA.

"They are two great players," said Hughes. "Both were prepared to come here and to try and earn a contract and we are working on getting international clearance to sign them until Christmas.

"That will give me time to take a further look and decide on whether to sign them on a longer term."

Hughes had initially hoped to confirm the move prior to Tuesday's reserves game with Motherwell and it is understood that the deal would be at no cost other than providing accommodation for them both.

However, one player who did make a long-awaited appearance in the 2-2 draw with Terry Butcher's side was goalkeeper Allan Ferguson who successfully completed the first 45 minutes after a long absence with an achilles problem.

The Well took the lead in the 24th minute through Adam Coakley before Andy Thomson grabbed an equaliser two minutes before the break.

Coakley got his brace in 67 minutes when he beat replacement keeper Darren Hill and the visitors looked to be heading for a win until Thomson bagged his double in the closing seconds.

"Fergie showed some great form and I'm delighted to have him back," Hughes explained.

"He came through the first half with no problems and was blameless for the goal – he has upped his training and is looking lean, which is all credit to him.

"We need three keepers at the club and I have high hopes for Darren as well – both now have to get the bit between their teeth and want to do well."

This Saturday is the first derby game of the season against Dunfermline at East End Park.

It marks the start of four crucial SPL encounters for Falkirk, with Dundee United, Inverness Caley and Livingston following in the coming weeks.

However, Yogi would not be drawn into saying this sequence of matches could shape the remainder of the season.

"Every game is important, whoever we are playing, and results will come with self-belief," he explained.

"However, we are all well aware of what facing Dunfermline means to the supporters – the clubs love playing against each other and I expect 6000 to 8000 fans at East End Park on Saturday.

"It's a massive game and will be very hard but I am confident we can pick up the points.

"Perhaps we are three or four points off where we should be at this stage of the campaign but that's what football's all about – drawing with Hearts is an example of what can happen.

"However, I am happy with the players I have here and believe we should really be a mid-table team."

Jack Ross has come through an operation on his knee with no problems and is currently in rehabilitation, while Russell Latapy and Darryl Duffy will be assessed on their fitness upon their return from international duty abroad this week.

Pedro Moutinho, who made his comeback for the first team in the 2-2 draw with Hearts, also played 90 minutes in the reserves game and is expected to feature at some point against the Pars.

Meanwhile, Hughes said he was delighted with the outcome of the compensation wrangle with Airdrie over Alan Gow, who joined the Bairns three months ago.

Lord McCluskey, who was due to chair the hearing last Thursday, gave both clubs a final chance to negotiate a fee and they mutually agreed an undisclosed figure.

"It's a great bit of business for the club and I'm delighted that it didn't have to go to a tribunal," Hughes added.

"The outcome will no doubt have settled Alan's mind and I firmly believe he can now improve further and go on to be a top-class player for Falkirk."