ALLAN JOHNSTON has hailed “on fire” Ryan Williamson after the Pars star was called up for international duty.

The 21-year-old, who has reportedly been attracting interest from English Championship side Derby County, was named in Scot Gemmill’s Scotland under-21 squad for next month’s European Championship qualifying double-header against England and Latvia.

In-form Williamson’s inclusion came less than a week after Callum Smith retained his place in the national under-19 pool and, with Dunfermline flying high at the top of the Championship, their boss feels momentum and excitement is building.

A huge crowd is anticipated on Saturday when free-scoring Athletic welcome pre-season title favourites Dundee United to East End Park and, speaking to Press Sport this week, Johnston is relishing the feel-good factor surrounding the club.

“Ryan’s on fire just now. He’s been fantastic this year, both defensively and going forward, and he causes teams problems,” he commented.

“I think he’s got a really good partnership with Kallum Higginbotham; the two of them link-up really well and the right hand side is causing teams loads of problems with the way they compliment each other.

“He’s been really unlucky with injuries over the last few seasons but he’s worked really hard to get himself back into the position he’s in now.

“It’s great to see because he’s got so much potential with the qualities he’s got, his pace and his end product now. Defensively he’s worked really hard as well.

“Callum Morris is another one you just need to look at. He’s been outstanding and is somebody that could easily play at a higher level with the pace and qualities he’s got.

“It would be good to see him getting in and around the Northern Ireland squad again because he’s playing week in, week out, and he’s playing at a good level.

“We’ve got a massive game this weekend and it’s one we’re all looking forward to. The boys have started the season, especially at home, really well and the whole club’s got a wee bit of momentum just now.”

Not winning against three of the promotion chasers - including United - ultimately cost Dunfermline a play-off spot last season but so far the fancied trio of Inverness, Falkirk and St Mirren have all left East End with nothing.

Johnston is determined to keep that going against the Taysiders but cautioned: “They’ve got a lot of good players and have obviously spent a lot of money in the summer to bring players in and that brings its own pressure sometimes.

“But we put pressure on ourselves; we want to stay at the top so it’s up to us to put in a performance.

“The boys are confident no matter what game they’re going into, and the good thing is that they’ll come and try to win the game. I don’t see them sitting in because we’re ahead of them on points, which should suit us and the way we play.

“We’ve got a lot of good players playing at the top of their game, so it’s one we’re all looking forward to.”

After more than 6,600 fans turned out for Dunfermline’s last home game, Johnston insists that a large and noisy home support can inspire his side once more this weekend, adding: “The crowd against St Mirren was brilliant. There was a good atmosphere, it was a big crowd and that’s what the players want to play in.

“The fans are getting right behind the players and it makes a massive difference. We need that and hopefully that will push us on and take us up another level.”

Johnston added that Jean-Yves M’Voto was hoping to resume training this week after a calf problem, but had no fresh injury concerns.