STEVEN WHITTAKER has no doubt that Dunfermline’s high-flying squad will continue on an upward trajectory – and is relishing playing his part on and off the park.

The vastly-experienced 36-year-old, who won 31 caps for Scotland and has enjoyed spells with Rangers and in the English Premier League with Norwich City, arrived at East End in the summer to take up a player-coach role after leaving Hibernian for a second time.

While enjoying the chance to dip into working with boss Stevie Crawford and his management team of Greg Shields and Jason Dair, on the training pitch, Whittaker is also proving his value on a matchday.

Of the Pars’ six league and cup matches so far, he has only missed one – the opening Championship fixture with Inverness Caledonian Thistle, for which he was suspended – and has started each of the other five.

During Saturday’s win against Queen of the South, which continued Athletic’s 100 per cent winning record and best-ever start to a season, Whittaker found himself filling in at full back from midfield after Aaron Comrie was forced off through injury.

Speaking this week, he said that, so far, the move across the Forth has been “everything that I hoped it would be”, and is enthused about what the club can achieve this season.

“It’s been great for me,” he commented.

“I’m still trying to help and do my bit on the pitch but getting together with the management staff and the other coaches and bringing the other side of it together on the training park and how we’re going to play and focus on the opposition and things like that.

“I’m getting stuck in when I can and am enjoying the role.

“To go from a game on a Saturday, Monday would be recovery for the guys who started and the rest would do a session. I’ve tended to take that session because, if I’ve played, then the recovery session isn’t doing too much anyway on the legs, so I would tend to plan and take the Monday session, and then we’d go back and plan the week’s training.

“I’m involved in all that and planning the week’s training. I can dip into the session on a Monday and on a Thursday as, just with getting a little bit older if you like and not wanting to put too much load in the legs, on a Thursday I tend not to do too much distance as well.

“Whenever I feel like I can take a rest I get involved in the coaching side so I’m trying to do that a couple of days a week. It’s getting used to coaching.

“I’ve been involved in thousands of sessions and, as a player, you just turn up and you do as you’re told. The planning and the taking of the session, and controlling it, is something that’s all relatively new to me.

“All in all, there’s been good results. There’s stages in the games where we’ve played well, and there’s stages where we’ve had to hang in, but we’re going to have to do that throughout the course of the season. Long may that continue.

“Apart from myself, we’re a relatively young side so we’re all learning as we’re going together, it’s a relatively new squad. The more game time we get, hopefully there will be improvement in there.”

After Saturday’s game at Ayr United, Dunfermline’s next two league fixtures are against favourites Hearts and derby rivals Raith Rovers, and Whittaker added: “We can’t get carried away and we can’t look too far ahead.

“We’ve played three games; it’s been a great start and that’s all it is really. We’ve got a trickier run of fixtures coming up that we’ll be tested again. We’ll see how we come through those fixtures.

“Regardless of the results, we’ll still be confident we can stick towards the top end of the table.”