Fitness fight for Shire star

Date: 14/08/12. STENHOUSEMUIR. Ochilview. East Stirlingshire v Airdrie United. Ramsdens Cup, Kevin Turner celebrates after netting his sides second goal.

Date: 14/08/12. STENHOUSEMUIR. Ochilview. East Stirlingshire v Airdrie United. Ramsdens Cup, Kevin Turner celebrates after netting his sides second goal.

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East Stirlingshire have suspension and injury worries ahead of this weekend’s trip to face Rangers at Ibrox.

Coach John Coughlin will have to do without first-choice right-back Steven Jackson, who is serving a one game ban for picking up too many bookings over the course of the season, and his natural replacement, Michael Herd, is struggling to be fit after picking up a groin strain.

With skipper Kevin Turner and Nathan Shepherd making slower than expected returns from injury it means Shire will not have their strongest eleven to field in what is an important game.

Apart from the fact that they are trying to keep an excellent run of recent results going, the weekend match will make a little bit of history for the club as it will be the first time one of their games has been shown live on television.

Coughlin is determined to create a good impression but knows getting anything from the visit to Govan will be difficult.

“We know we will be up against it and that perhaps people will not expect us to get much from it,” he said. “But we go into the game in the best form we have been in all season.

“It is disappointing to have Steven Jackson missing as he has been a key player for us in our recent revival but suspensions are part of the game now and something we will have to get on with. We will be working hard to get everyone else fit and available because it is important that we have our players fit to participate in what, for all of them, will be one of the biggest matches they will play in.”

Continuity has been a vital element in Shire’s recent good form. Having the same players to choose from each week has made a difference and Coughlin has recognised that.

“I think it does help when you have a settled team,” he said. “We’ve won our last three games and ten of the eleven starters have been the same in all those games.”

Shire will start Saturday’s game with the odds stacked very heavily against them continuing their unbeaten run of matches which has now reached four. Nevertheless, Coughlin says they are capable of registering a shock.

“Rangers have shown that they are not invincible and teams have taken points from them,” he said. “Admittedly that has tended to come away from Ibrox but we have to look at the recent results of Elgin City and Montrose who have drawn there recently as what we should be aiming for.”

The team’s last trip to Rangers in August ended in a 5-1 defeat after Paul Quinn had given Shire a 1-0 lead from an early penalty. Coughlin says there were a number of factors which played a part on that day, not the least of which was his own team’s open approach to the game.

“We went out that day to try and play a bit of football and attack Rangers when we could and that left us a bit open at the back,” said the Shire boss. “The league table tells its own story. Defence has been a bit of a weak point for us this season although we have taken steps and they seem to be working.”