JAMES MCPAKE has said that adaptability has been a key element to his side’s success so far this season - but hard work has been at the heart of it.

The Dunfermline manager is preparing his side for Saturday’s visit of FC Edinburgh, following the weekend’s postponement of their game at Peterhead, looking to maintain, or better, their eight point lead at the top of League One.

The win over nearest challengers Falkirk last midweek has put the Pars in pole position to make an instant return to the Championship, with nine games to go, but McPake isn’t taking anything for granted.

And, whilst he is confident in the knowledge that he can ask his squad to implement a different game plan, or a variety of individual roles within the team, week-to-week, he insists that the most basic quality on a match day has driven them to their lofty position.

“They can adapt but the one thing they all can do, and are not afraid of doing it, is working really hard and as hard as they can,” he said.

“You can talk about tactics and good players but, first and foremost, what we ask of them, and they consistently do, is work hard. That’s the thing we came in and asked them to do from day one. It’s the thing that’s got us to March 16 with one league defeat.

“You take it back to basics, but it’s the hardest basic to get right and to consistently get it. It’s easy when there’s maybe 10,000 fans there that turn up, the atmosphere’s great, and you’re thinking it’s a great night, we need to give that wee bit extra, but these players do that every single day in training.

“That’s why I think they deserve all the credit for it because they always do that, whether it’s a reserve game, or a training session. They give everything for it and that’s why the group is so strong in my opinion.

“It sounds a bit basic but, when you get that right, and you’ve got a group that don’t know when to stop and don’t know when they’re beaten, like the Airdrie game (the 4-3 win last month, after the Pars had been 3-0 down) showed, then you’ve always got a chance.

“That’s what we believe we’ve got in this group, which is great to coach and great to work work with,but they deserve the credit for that because it’s not easy what we asked them to do.

“Sometimes it’s not pretty when you’re asking players to go out and grind the result out, but that’s what happens at first team football, and they’re doing that.”

McPake continued: “I put that to the full squad now; we know what they all can do. They’ve all been with us long enough.

“It’s down to that trust in the group and what you can do and that’s why, even at the start of the season, we were really happy with the players we had, and we were very conscious not to disrupt it by just going out and signing players for the sake of having an extra number.

“They had to be the right type of player but, more importantly, the right type of person, and we believe we’ve got that now.”