MOVING to East End is a "step in the right direction" for Vytas Gašpuitis – and a former fans' hero helped to seal the deal.

Last Thursday, Athletic announced that the 6ft 5ins centre half had, subject to paperwork, agreed a two-and-a-half-year contract to leave his native Lithuania for West Fife.

In doing so, he is set to become the third player from the Baltic country to play for Dunfermline and will follow in the footsteps of one of the club's most popular players of the noughties who had a hand in the deal.

Andrius Skerla, who enjoyed five years as a Pars player, had been working as the assistant national coach of Lithuania, for whom Gašpuitis, 26, made his debut in November.

His discussions with his ex-team-mate, and current head coach, Stevie Crawford, helped pave the way for a move to be completed but can supporters expect similarities between the new boy and old favourite?

"It's probably hard to compare," Crawford explained.

"Andrius was a fantastic player for Dunfermline over the years, with his application, his attitude, settling into a foreign country himself, and that played a part in it.

"We spoke about Vytas as a character and Andrius couldn't speak highly enough. It's always a risk bringing a player to a club, bigger so that you're bringing him from a foreign country, but we just think he ticks a lot of the right boxes.

"He can play left centre back and right centre back, and if we were to change to play with three at the back, he's comfortable with that. He gives us options.

"We did our homework. Andrius had four, five years at our football club that meant a lot to him and, after several discussions, and having watched him through YScout and InStat, we felt he was the right fit to join our football club."

Skerla, his country's most capped player with 84 appearances, arrived at Dunfermline in the summer of 2000 from PSV Eindhoven, with then boss, Jimmy Calderwood, reshaping his squad after promotion from the First Division.

After making his league debut in the opening day stalemate with Aberdeen, Skerla would go on to cement a regular place at the heart of the Athletic defence, and was linked with a number of clubs after his first season at East End.

He chose, however, to remain with the Pars and his ability on the ball, together with his defensive qualities, ensured he became a favourite with the fans.

Skerla's most iconic moment arrived in the 2004 Scottish Cup final, when his looping header over Scotland hero David Marshall gave them a half-time lead against Celtic.

Although the match was ultimately lost, the Pars returned to European competition for the first time in 34 years the following season – Skerla scoring in the first leg of the infamous exit to FH Hafnarfjordur – before he departed in 2005 for Russian club, Tom Tomsk.

Whether Gašpuitis will have the same impact that his countryman had remains to be seen but Crawford is confident he will prove to be a "great addition".

"He's ambitious, he saw it as a step in the right direction in where he wants his career to go, so with him being ambitious, and Dunfermline being ambitious, we think it's a win-win situation," he continued.

"He's possibly slightly behind in terms of his conditioning at the moment; I think his last game was for the national side a number of months ago. He's tried to keep himself to certain fitness levels, and I think his first training after his self-isolation period was last Thursday.

"He knows he's a little bit off it but he's very keen and we'll work him hard with Garry (McColl, sports scientist) over the next couple of weeks or so and integrate him into the squad at the right times.

"Within that two-and-a-half-year period, if he plays to the levels he's hoping to play, hopefully he'll be attracting interest from outwith as well.

"If he is attracting interest from outwith, I think it means that Dunfermline as a football club are doing well."