STEVIE CRAWFORD says his squad are playing for their futures and wants them to show it in their final three games of the season.

The Pars go to Queen of the South on Saturday on the back of a disappointing defeat to rivals Falkirk which, combined with Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s draw at Morton on Tuesday, leaves them nine points behind the fourth-top Highlanders. Athletic also have an inferior goal difference and, while head coach Crawford is fully focused on ending the campaign as strongly as possible, he has an eye on what will happen beyond it.

“When you come into this side, you never stop looking at what’s happening anywhere in the football world, and you’d be silly not to,” he told Press Sport.

“You’re always looking to try and improve, and make your club better and stronger, but we’ve got to focus on the Queen of the South game, and the remaining games after that, to try and make sure we finish the season strongly.

“The boys have also got futures to play for; we’ve got our futures to play for.

“I want to see players that are hungry to play for this football club – I’ve said that from day one – and that will be the test.

“Results might dictate that we know where we’re going to be playing our football next year at the weekend.

“We’ll be clearer where we are as a club with the budget the quicker we find out where we’re going to be playing our football, and then we can move on with things like that.”

Crawford, who admitted to feeling “extremely disappointed” after losing to the relegation-threatened Bairns, continued: “You want a feel-good factor (going into the summer) but the thing is that Queen of the South, Morton, Inverness and ourselves have all got something to play for.

“Everybody’s capable of beating everybody in this league so if we’re not fully focused, or the players’ minds are elsewhere, then it makes it more difficult.

“As a coaching staff we’ll be reminding the players that, mentally, we have to be ready for this game. Queen of the South is not an easy fixture at the best of times, but they’re playing with a lot of pressure on them and we’ll have to exploit their weaknesses.

“We need better consistency to get results, We have to try and win as many games between now and the end of the season and carry that into next year as well.”