The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and Dundee)
Johnston out to repay Locke’s faith in him
Raith rovers: Winger eager for new start after injury nightmare
Chris Johnston insists he is determined to put his injury nightmare behind him and is concentrating on the future at new club Raith Rovers.
The 21-year-old winger was snapped up at the start of this week by Stark’s Park boss Gary Locke, with the pair knowing one another from their time together at Kilmarnock.
The manager left Rugby Park in January with the Ayrshire side second bottom of the Premiership table. His departure was another bitter blow to Johnston, who had ruptured his cruciate in training shortly after the first game of the season against Dundee.
Having battled back to full fitness, he is determined to repay Locke’s faith in him and make this a season to remember for Rovers fans.
Johnston said: “I was training when I crossed a ball and my knee just went.
“I was sent for a scan and then I received the bad news that I had done my cruciate, which was disappointing to say the least. It was by far the worst injury of my career.
“It was the first long-term one I had suffered, and I had to spend months in the gym and with the physio working my way back to full fitness.
“It was made even worse by the fact that the team were struggling and I had to sit in the stands desperate to help out but unable to. I just wanted to be out on the park, maybe making a difference.
“I finally managed to get some game time for the under-20s, and there was talk about a new contract offer two or three months before the season ended.
“It then went quiet, though eventually I had a conversation with (new Killie boss) Lee Clark after the last game and he told me he wanted to bring in his own players and had fresh ideas about the team.”
Having been at Kilmarnock since he was a teenager, it was a big blow for Johnston to leave the club and it was an unsettling time for him.
However, when Locke came calling, he decided Raith was the perfect place to restart his career.
Johnston added: “To be fair, he (Clark) never saw the best of me but it was still a worrying time after I left the club.
“After all, I had suffered a bad injury and had been out for nearly a whole season.
“However, I am confident in my ability and thankfully I had a few options to consider.
“I obviously knew Gary well from our time together at Kilmarnock, and he had shown a lot of faith in me.
“Raith are a great, friendly club with superb training facilities and I was delighted to sign for them.
“I am now looking to get as fit as I can in pre-season and hit the ground running.
“I already know some of the boys such as Lewis Toshney, Mark Stewart and Rory McKeown from Killie, so that should help me settle in.
“I have definitely put my injury behind me and I hope I can now live up to my potential and hopefully help Raith win promotion next season.”
“Raith are a great, friendly club with superb training facilities and I was delighted to sign for them. CHRIS JOHNSTON