Partick Thistle legend in talks to extend East Kilbride stay as he balances fire fighting job with football

East Kilbride boss Kevin Rutkiewicz has revealed he is hopeful a deal can be struck to keep Chris Erskine at K-Park next season.

The former Partick Thistle and Dundee United midfielder hadn’t played for the club since Christmas as he pursued a future career in the fire service.

But the 35-year-old has now completed his training ahead of starting the new job next month and that allowed him to feature in Kilby’s 1-0 defeat to Lowland League champions Bonnyrigg Rose on Saturday.

Erskine came off the bench in the second half and Rutkiewicz says the experienced star intends to balance work life with prolonging his playing days next season.

Now, all parties need to sit down and sort out the details to make that happen.

In an exclusive interview with the News last month, Erskine – who will be inducted into the Partick Thistle hall of fame tonight – revealed how he was hopeful of finding a solution after missing the game during his time out.

And Rutkiewicz said: “Chris has been in his [fire service] training for the past wee while and I know he has said publicly he would like to come back next season.

“We thought the offer of him coming in and getting a flavor of us, and us getting a flavor for him, would be good.

“He’s gone 14 weeks without kicking a ball so we won’t get a true reflection of what he is all about in a couple of games, but we’ll always look at a player of Chris’s quality and hopefully we can offer him a platform .

East Kilbride boss Kevin Rutkiewicz

“He’s in a position now where he is finding out his rota and people are sympathetic to his desire to keep playing football.

“I don’t think that means if we sign him and all is well, he would be available for all 34 league games.

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“But that’s a thing Bill Orr [the assistant manager]Chris and I need to get round the table about and discuss the pros and cons.

“If we can get to a middle ground financially and for the benefit of Chris prolonging his career, while we get the most out of him while he is doing that, then that would be the ideal situation.

“Things are a lot clearer for Chris now and he feels he can free up time somewhere to be a valuable asset for us.

Chris Erskin

“His ability speaks for itself so hopefully we can sit down with him in the next few weeks and find out exactly how it can work.”

Rutkiewicz is hopeful Erskine can get more games under his belt before the season is out.

While the league campaign is over, EK host Berwick Rangers this weekend in the quarter-finals of the Lowland League Cup and Rutkiewicz added: ““He definitely retains the hunger and desire, there’s no doubt about that, but hopefully the wee period away hasn ‘t taken too much away from him.

“Berwick is another chance for him to get minutes and hopefully we can go beyond that games as well.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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