Boss pitches in to turf debate

Paul Hartley. Picture Michael Gillen.
Paul Hartley. Picture Michael Gillen.

Falkirk chief Paul Hartley has defended the use of plastic pitches – including the Bairns’ – in the wake of the latest row over the use of the ‘astroturf’.

Rangers forward Jamie Murphy was injured on Kilmarnock’s synthetic surface at the weekend, prompting another debate on their use, but Hartley, who has managed both Alloa and Falkirk on artificial grass, says “they’re here to stay”.

He said: “Teams have to have plastic pitches in terms of finances and generating money.

“I never had to play on them but as a manager there was one when I was at Alloa, and now here at Falkirk. We’ve never had any problems at either.

“They’re here, and here for good.

“I see people’s view in terms of the top-flight but if you look in the winter at the grass pitches, they’re very difficult to play good football on. Artificial pitches are true all year round.

“We train on ours day in day out. I know some managers have concerns but for me, no problems.

“Ours is one of the best going about although it’s a bit older now. We played at Hamilton’s on Saturday and it was terrific.

“The young players now are a generation brought up on astro, so it’s something they’re used to once they hit the first team.”

Hartley is seeking an improvement on the Bairns home turf this week when Queen of the South visit. The Bairns have lost their opening two league fixtures and are at the wrong end of the SPFL Championship table, but will have their numbers boosted following the week off from competitive action.

Hartley added: “It’s not the start we’ve been looking for, that’s for sure, but in the two league gaems I’ve seen promising things and indifferent things. We’ve brought 16 new players in and it was never going to be an overnight success. We need to work hard on the training pitch, get our strongest side on the park and build up on all the promising signs throughout an entire game.

“Mark Russell and Rees Greenwood were given game time in a bounce game with Hamilton and the likes of Marcus Haber will be back for Saturday.

“We’ve been a little low on numbers recently but only Patrick Brough and Dan Turner will definitely be missing the weekend.

“QOS were very good against St Johnstone and have a front four to cause any team problems. Stephen Dobbie is the best striker in the league and could play in the Premiership in Scotland no problem.

“However we hope to exploit their weaknesses. It will be tough but as we say every week there are not easy games in this league.”

A forward continues to be a target for the Bairns, and former loan striker Andrew Nelson remains a target, but not the only one under consideration.

Nelson is recovering from a broken toe at Sunderland.