East Stirlingshire could be struggling with a shortage of strikers ahead of their opening Third Division match of the season against Queen’s Park at Ochilview on Saturday.
Coach John Coughlin’s already had to do without his two main forwards, Paul Quinn and Kevin Turner, for the first two cup matches of the campaign and that may now be compounded by an injury to top scorer Michael Herd.
The former Whitehill Welfare man has been in great form, scoring two of the three goals that sent Ayr United crashing out of the Ramsdens Cup and notching Shire’s consolation in their League Cup defeat at the hands of Morton.
But an ankle knock in Sunday’s match meant Herd was withdrawn at half-time and the player was unable to take part in Tuesday night’s training session. Now Coughlin is hoping he responds to treatment in time to line-up against the Spiders this weekend.
“Michael’s form so far has been great and we want to have him in the team,” said the Shire boss. “The physios and coaching staff are working with him in a bid to get him right. He has been the big goal threat for us and has helped ease the pressure we might have been under due to the injuries suffered by Quinn and Turner.
“He has scored some great goals and settled into the team and football at this level and that is something we do not want to lose.”
Both club captain Turner and former Stenhousemuir man Quinn were able to train this week but neither of them are certain to start on Saturday. Quinn has been suffering from a cracked rib and will not be risked unless he can prove his fitness, while the news on Turner is better in that he came through the second 45 minutes of Sunday’s 5-1 defeat at the hands of Morton unscathed.
“Paul has not played for three weeks and I will be checking to make sure he is 100% fit before risking him in a game. But Kevin is getting stronger and will at least be on the bench for Saturday’s game,” said Coughlin.
The Shire coach knows his team got a dose of realism in the Morton game after the euphoria of beating Second Division Ayr United. He is now hoping that the League Cup result will not have an adverse impact on his players.
“When you have been on a high and you get brought back down to earth it can sometimes be difficult to get back up quickly. It is a situation that will teach us a lot about the character of the players we have this season and whether they have the ability to put what happened against Morton out of mind,” said the Shire coach.
Coughlin is determined to get the right result against the Glasgow amateurs who were the only team his side failed to take any league points from last term.
“There is no doubt that they will be one of the top teams in the league again this season,” he said. “Queen’s Park have lost a few of their better players in the summer but there are still more than enough who remain from last season who gave us big problems and we will have to be wary of them.”
The Shire coach went on a spying mission to Ibrox on Tuesday to have a look at their next league opponents, Rangers. Shire will be the first team to visit Govan on Third Division business on 18th August and the coach knows that it will be all about damage limitation.
“Rangers have been admitted to the Third Division and we will have to get on with it. But there is no doubt that their presence will have an impact of the competition.
“For a club like ourselves it almost certainly means that there will be twelve points fewer for us to go and win. That’s not being defeatist, just realistic. We are effectively playing in a nine team league because Rangers are so far ahead of everyone else that they are not going to drop too many points, which will be more of a concern for the other sides who perhaps have spent money in a bid to win promotion than ourselves.
“It also makes it more important that we get off to a positive start against Queen’s Park on Saturday. Our aim is simply to improve on last season and get ourselves as far away from the bottom of the league as we can,” he said.