AT the age of 32, Jason Talbot is hardly a veteran but is one of the elder statesmen in the Pars squad.

He’s one of the few, alongside the likes of Dean Shiels, Sean Murdoch and Joe Cardle, who are in Dunfermline’s plus 30 club but he reckons the younger element have inspired him to some of his best football as a pro.

After missing the Betfred Cup campaign and Athletic’s Championship opener, the ex-Livingston full-back has not looked back since regaining his place in the side for August’s 5-1 thumping of Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Talbot has arguably been one of the first names on Allan Johnston’s team-sheet since and his fine form was recognised by the Pars supporters, who voted him as their club player of the month for October.

He even managed to score his first goal this season in the recent Scottish Cup tie at Queen’s Park and, speaking to Press Sport, Talbot believes pre-season and the fitness of his team-mates has been a major factor in his performances.

“At the start of the season, I said I wanted to be as consistent as I can be,” he said. “We all make mistakes but I’ve tried to limit the amount of errors and I think that’s shown in my performances. If you’re playing week in, week out, you must be doing something right.

“On a personal note, I think working hard during pre-season has been the key. I worked really hard to get as fit as I possibly could and probably ran myself a bit too much because, unfortunately, I got an injury just before pre-season started.

“Pre-season was massive for me and I feel the fittest I’ve ever been. I put it down to, not only myself, but the boys we’ve got in the team. We’ve got a young, fit squad and if you can’t keep up with these boys then you’re not going to be playing, and I don’t want to find myself out of a job. Football’s only a short career so I have to do everything in my power and my will to be as fit as some of these young lads coming through. As you get on your legs start to go – although I’m not saying mine have – but your brain doesn’t; it’s probably the one thing that gets better!”

Like the rest of the squad, Talbot is desperate to bounce back from two disappointing home results at Dundee United this weekend. He’s adamant they can rediscover their early season form and challenge for the title, adding: “Championship winning teams are not going to go through a full season, especially at this level, without a drop in form. It’s how you react to results you’ve recently had.

“We’re a good team and a good squad and should be beating teams like Morton and Dumbarton if we want to be up challenging for the title.

“We should’ve had six points over the last two games. I don’t know why, but we just don’t look ourselves but we’ll be doing everything in our power – players, management and as a squad – “We need to get back to the way we were at the start of the season. That starts on Saturday.”