East Stirlingshire have some good news ahead pf Saturday’s match with Berwick Rangers.
Both Nathan Shepherd and Max Wright could be back in the squad within a week or so. Shepherd, a vital cog in the Shire machine at left-back, has been missing for more than a month with a knee problem. But’s he’s now training again and would have played in Monday’s Development League game against Stenhousemuir had it not been postponed due to the weather.
Wright’s calf strain has taken far longer to heal than had been expected but he could be ready for action in another week.
Chris Townsley is back again after two months out and Craig Tully is once again able to field him in his first-choice central defensive partnership with Michael Bolochoweckyj. Paul McMullan, who suffered a foot injury in his only appearance this season, is also back with the squad and looking to regain fitness after his long lay-off.
It now gives Tully options and he is looking forward to being able to implement plans he had to abandon at the start of the season as senior players fell by the wayside.
“It’s starting to look like the way we had worked things out in pre-season,” he said. “With so many injuries and with players leaving the club for different reasons we had to start from scratch,” he said.
“We were forced to field youngsters who we thought would have to spend time in the under-20s, and although that has been good because those kids have been given valuable first team experience, we do need that bit of experience at this level to give us the chance to compete.”
Not that Tully is abandoning giving youngsters a chance in the first team. 18 year-old Andy Kay has forced himself into a starting position over the last two weeks after some outstanding displays in the Development League.
The Denny teenager is one of the main reasons why Shire currently top the Under-20 league and he has not looked out of place in his two first team starts.
“Although it’s fair to say that you do need some experience to be able to compete at this level, I am also a great believer in giving kids a chance if they deserve it,” said the Shire coach.
The side he selects for the Berwick match will be entrusted with getting Shire a vital three points and lifting them away from the wrong end of the table.
With the addition of a talented kid like Donnelly and the return of some of the older heads, Tully is clearly hoping to kick start Shire’s season back to life.