Queen of the South full-back Scott Mercer is hoping to keep his personal record of unbeaten matches going. This season, the Doonhamers have not suffered a defeat in any of their 90 minute or extra time matches that the Fifer has been involved in, with the Dumfries club hoping that record will continue tomorrow against fellow promotion hopefuls, Dunfermline Athletic.
Speaking on Wednesday to jordanburtfootball.com, Mercer said:
“The boys joke about my unbeaten record a little bit! Despite that, it hasn’t been enough to get me regular football this season, yet! To be fair, I have had Callum Fordyce playing there most of this season and he has been our best player. He has been brilliant since he came in – I know he had a tough time at Dunfermline with injuries, but, since he came to us he has been absolutely flying. It has been unlucky for him that his first wee injury kept him out of last week’s match. It gave me an opportunity to go and stake my claim and hopefully I can continue that on this weekend, if I am selected.”
With Mercer comfortable on either side of defence or midfield, there is plenty options for Gary Naysmith to involve the 22-year-old against his former club.
“[Being able to play in those positions] gives you more of an option when you are on the ball; if you are on the right-hand side and you are in trouble, you feel confident enough that you can clear your lines with your left-foot and vice versa when you are on the left. I don’t view going to one side or the other as different or better – the role doesn’t change that much, if at all. I think I have played half my career on the left and half my career on the right, so, I am pretty used to it now.
When I was about 14, I remember my youth coach, Stevie Paterson, had said to me “work on your left foot” as he felt I had a good chance of making the grade, but he was aware that you had to be comfortable with the ball at either foot. I remember kicking a ball over the rugby goals every time we had finished training as it would help me improve my left-foot. Doing that has definitely helped me in my career, as it has given me versatility and an ability to play in numerous positions.”
Queens find themselves joint fourth in the SPFL Ladbrokes Championship, albeit sixth in the table – behind Greenock Morton and Saturday’s hosts on goal difference.
“If you look at things from a positive perspective, we are joint fourth…but, our aim this year is to be in the play-offs and I feel, the draws we have had, we could have won: a great example is the Inverness match last Saturday. We had 2 or 3 really good chances, that would have allowed us to win the game and already be in fourth. So would the midweek draw with Dumbarton…it has been a bit of a rocky-road, so far. We have only lost four times in 20-odd game, which isn’t bad as we are showing we are difficult to beat and that is always a good trait to have.”
Last weekend’s match against Inverness may not have went ahead due to an unforeseen incident which delayed the Highlanders in reaching Dumfries. For Mercer, he was desperate for the game to go ahead.
“I haven’t played much in the league this year, so, when I got the call last Friday to tell me I was starting, I was buzzing. So, you can imagine when I heard the rumours that the game may have been called off, I was sitting in my house absolutely raging! I could barely sleep as I was worried when I woke up in the morning I would have had a text to say the match had been cancelled and I had potentially lost my opportunity to show what I can do. Once I got to the stadium and I knew it was on, it was just a case of getting focused and remaining focused solely on the game so I can play my best, and I did that, I think.”
‘Merce’, as he is affectionately known, is a local lad to this weekend’s opponents – and the defender knows exactly what to expect from the East End Park club tomorrow.
“There will be a lot of people going to the match, purely to give me some “kind words” I think! In all seriousness though, it is weird walking into the stadium but having to go into the away dressing room and things like that – the experience is different. I know what to expect from them as I had been involved with the club for so many years – in terms of what they expect and what they demand of a player – but, to be fair, I think everyone in our squad knows what we are coming up against. We know we aren’t going to get it easy, it is going to be a very tough game because they have got a lot of quality.
Whoever wins this match will basically cement their place in the top four, as I think Morton have Dundee United – with United most likely to win, in my opinion, as they have turned a corner under their new manager I think – so, for me, it is a game which holds a massive incentive for both sides. I don’t think it is just myself and my team-mates here at Queen of the South who are looking at it that way, either. I am positive the Dunfermline players will be looking at it too as both sides have a lot to play for, it is probably an early-season six-pointer.”