DUNFERMLINE boss James McPake has highlighted the "good professionalism" of senior members of his squad which he said was "invaluable" throughout the season.

And he believes that their attitude during a challenging campaign will have a positive influence on younger players within the team moving forward.

McPake guided the Pars to safety in their first season back in the Championship following their League One title success last year, which was secured with a draw against Inverness Caledonian Thistle on the penultimate day.

They finished sixth and, after a season that saw the Athletic camp hit by long-term injuries to several key players, and second bottom of the league in February, they rallied to even put themselves in contention for a promotion play-off slot.

Dunfermline Press:

Between mid-December and mid-February, the Pars endured a nine-game winless run, with McPake having to rely on those who were fit week-to-week with his pool stretched due to absences.

Two of those, Joe Chalmers and Michael O'Halloran, played a combined total of 64 matches throughout the season but, until the final game of the season, the latter's last start came in February, whilst Chalmers, who captained the team at Somerset Park, started only two of Dunfermline's 13 matches prior.

"They're ones that I'll pick out and say, through that bad run, were there, week-in, week-out, and were training day-in, day-out," McPake said prior to the season coming to a close.

"Then, when they've not been in the team, I can't speak highly enough of those two. I'm bringing those two up because they're senior players and, often enough in football, you see senior players spit the dummy out.

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"It's natural. It's what happens. You're not in the team, you feel you're training for nothing, even though it's not the case, but sometimes your mind tells you that - 'what's the point here, I'm training for nothing?'.

"But those two have been exceptional in and around the place, and we probably needed that.

"I'm not just saying this for the press, because I've said it to the chairman, I've said it to Thomas (Meggle), they've genuinely been outstanding around the ground, particularly when (Kyle) Benedictus was out.

"He was low, just with the nature of the injury and the re-occurence, so you're leaning on your other senior players - those two, Deniz (Mehmet), who had his own injury troubles, and then a wee blip in form.

"You get to see the strength of a group when things are going against you, and then we go on a half-decent run, and those two I'm speaking about weren't in the team.

"For me, it's quite easy for them to just down tools. I don't mean just chuck it completely, but just come off it a wee bit, and not train as hard, but the two of them actually stepped up what they did - training, leading, helping people."

Asked about the example Chalmers and O'Halloran had set, McPake continued: "It's huge.

"It's a mentality, it's a culture. There's loads of cliches and buzz words for it, but it's just good professionalism.

"You can see why Michael's had the moves he's had, played at the clubs he's had. You can see why Joe's been so valuable to so many teams, and so valuable to us, because he's played so many games. Since we came in, he's been excellent.

"You work with players and at times you see players, and you get why they're down. They're not playing, they're left out of big games or whatever, but they keep working.

"I've been pretty lucky in my time as a manager that we've not had too many problems, but I think it would embarrass the younger ones to be problematic, if that makes sense.

"When you see two players like that, that have been around the block a few times, that have played football for a while, been involved in different dressing rooms, still working away, still training really hard, then I think if you're a younger player, and we've got loads of them, they're a great example.

"It would make younger players think twice about downing tools at any point, whether in or out of the team, coming back from injury or whatever.

"Having characters and personalities like that in your squad's invaluable, and it's certainly helped us throughout this season."