He may not have made any new signings for more than a month but East Stirlingshire boss John Coughlin says he is far from worried about a last-minute panic-buy to assemble a team for the start of the new season in three weeks.
Coughlin admits that playing a waiting game is now part and parcel of the summer ritual of signing players, with many out-of-contract men unwilling to commit until they see a deal that suits them.
However, he says anyone who thinks he will push the boat out in terms of money to accommodate them can think again.
“We have signed ten players so far and that has used up a fair chunk of the budget that has been allocated by the board,” he said.
“There are always players around who you think would do a job for you but you have to be realistic.
“If a player becomes available that you are interested in signing it has to be at the right price. We might be prepared to negotiate a bit but there will always be an upper limit that we cannot go beyond in terms of wages.
“The economic stability of the club comes first,” the manager said.
Shire’s long gap with no signing news has not been for the want of trying. But Coughlin has seen pretty much all his targets slip through his fingers with players opting to go where the money is.
The coach says it is a frustrating process, especially when he is losing out to junior clubs for players he feels would be better off staying in the senior game.
“People remind you every day that we are in the middle of an economic recession, but I wonder if they have told some of these junior clubs,” said the Shire boss. “There have been a few times over the summer where I have gone in for a player who has subsequently joined a junior team for what I would term silly money. We just cannot compete with that.”
Coughlin does not even know if some of the trialists he currently has training with the club will even accept deals if he offers them.
Former Berwick Rangers striking duo Damon Gray and Darren Gribben have joined the club over the last few weeks, and while Coughlin would love to have both at the Shire, he has a realistic view of the situation.
“I have worked with both of the players before and they came to us because they wanted training facilities to get themselves fit and because they know me and the coaches we have here.
“They have both shown up well and are the kind of players who would improve us but, to be honest, I have not spoken to either of them yet about what they want to do,” he said.
“Both have been used to earning higher wages than we are able to offer and it may well be that they themselves are looking even now for something higher up the league. But they will continue to train with us and, if they want, to take part in our pre-season matches.”
Those matches continue this weekend when Shire take on East of Scotland League team Tynecastle at Peffermill Sports Complex in Edinburgh on Saturday (kick-off 230 p m ).
It will be the club’s first public outing of the season and follows a 6-0 win in a closed doors game against Easthouses Lily last week. Coughlin is hoping that the trialists who comprised the main part of his team can show up just as brightly again.
“We have a number of young players with us who came highly recommended and I thought they showed up really well in that opening game.
“They will be given another chance on Saturday and in our games up north. If they want a chance to prove themselves in the senior game it is there and up to them to take it,” he said.