Striker Paul Quinn has been ruled out of East Stirlingshire’s next few matches after coming down with chickenpox.
It is the latest in a long list of injuries and illnesses to strike at the core of John Coughlin’s squad which has decimated his plans to field his strongest possible team.
The Shire coach will gather what’s left of his first team squad at training tonight (Thursday) before selecting an eleven to start Saturday’s important clash with Clyde at Ochilview.
He is still waiting to hear the latest from some of his walking wounded and hoping that their injuries have cleared up.
“We may have a few back for the Clyde game,” he said. “But as one lot return a different set report injury and illness problems which again upsets our plans to field our strongest possible team.
“The good news is that Raymond Buchanan and Jordan Holt should be fit enough to play, but set against that we have Paul Quinn’s chickenpox as well as injuries to Mark Begg, Michael Herd and Philipp Züfle to contend with.
“Quinn has been told to stay away for the next couple of weeks but the others will be at training on Thursday to have their injuries assessed in the hope that they may have cleared enough to allow them to play.”
There was better news this week for the club’s long-term injured. Nathan Shepherd is showing signs of improvement as he seeks recovery from the knee injury that has kept him out of the side since before Christmas. Jamie Benton has now returned to full training after months on the sidelines and Rhys Devlin has had a scan on his injured knee.
“Rhys has been out for a great deal longer than we expected,” said Coughlin. “But hopefully now the scan will reveal what, if any, lasting damage there is and we can plan accordingly.
“As far as Nathan goes, he was another we had hoped would be back in the team by now but he is still not entirely comfortable. He is still experiencing problems when he tries to twist the knee but he is at least making progress.”
There is no doubt at all in Coughlin’s mind that the recent spate of illness and injury has had an impact on his team’s ability to pick up points and move away from the bottom of the Third Division.
This weekend’s match against Clyde is a vital one if they are not to become detached along with Stirling Albion at the wrong end of the league. The Cumbernauld team is five points ahead and a Shire win would have obvious benefits.
“When you reflect on where we are then it is disappointing that we have not got more points and are not higher up the league,” said Coughlin. “A lot of that is down to injuries to key players just at the wrong time. Hopefully, though, we can get enough of our players back for Saturday to make a difference.
“The last thing we want is to become isolated along with Stirling Albion. The more teams there are ahead of us but within catching distance, the better for us.”
Coughlin has faith in his players to get the right result when it matters and with two games against Stirling coming up over the next few weeks he knows getting them all back fit will be absolutely vital.
“Even when we have been presented with all these injury and illness problems we have not played badly,” he said. “Against Queen’s Park last week it was hard to be critical of anyone even though we lost the match.
“What we really need is to get our best players back in the team and playing well. When we manage that then I believe we will start to see this side realise its potential.”