East Stirlingshire are hoping key defender Michael Bolochoweckyj will be fit enough to return to action in time for Saturday’s key local derby against Stirling Albion at Ochilview.
The 29 year-old has missed Shire’s last three games after picking up an ankle injury. However, he was fit enough to do some training on Tuesday evening and he could yet make the squad for the weekend match given another few days healing.
His inclusion would be a significant boost for coach John Coughlin who identified poor defending as the most significant factor in last weekend’s disappointing defeat at Peterhead.
Bolochoweckyj forms a key central defensive partnership with Chris Townsley which has played perhaps the single biggest part in getting Shire to within touching distance of the promotion play-off position.
Certainly, their ability to see Shire through some shaky moments in games has allowed other players to take advantage and convert close matches into wins and there is no doubt that both would play every week if fit.
Bolochoweckyj’s return to the squad for the Stirling match in particular is a key aim for Coughlin. Albion are a tough, physically-strong team to play against and in key striker Jordan White they have a man who can turn a game on his own and who will always pop up with a goal. Keeping him at bay will need all the experience the Shire coach can muster.
A look at the league table shows just how important victory is to Shire. The club is now at the stage where a failure to pick up points could leave them detached from the top four for this first time this season.
Matches between the sides have been tight with both teams claiming one victory each this season and the other game ending in a draw and there is plenty at stake for both teams with the season now moving into its final quarter.
While Shire wait on Bolochoweckyj’s fitness they know that skipper Kevin Turner will not feature. His ankle problems are more long-lasting and the striker has not played since January which has been another blow to their chances of maintaining a promotion push.