Patched-up Shire ready for Montrose trip

Michael Herd is one of several Shire players out injured.
Michael Herd is one of several Shire players out injured.

East Stirlingshire defender Ricky Miller may not be out of action for as long as was first feared following a horror tackle in last weekend’s Scottish Cup win.

The centre-half was taken from the Bellslea Park pitch on a stretcher and at the time there were worries he may have broken his leg.

However, doctors at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary confirmed the damage was minimal beyond a nasty gash where his shin pad shattered through the impact of the challenge.

Miller went home on Saturday night on crutches but by Tuesday he was able to do some light training when the squad met up for its first session of the week. And that is good news for coach John Coughlin who is already facing an injury crisis.

“It was pleasing to see Ricky do some running at training and hopefully we will see him back in the team before long,” he said.

“Ideally, we could do with him for Saturday’s trip to Montrose but that might be too soon.

“He has two separate gashes on his leg and they are quite deep but at least he has not lost any mobility as a result of the injury and we have to be grateful it was not any worse.”

Miller will probably miss the Links Park game and will be added to a long list of players in the same boat. Rhys Devlin is still a couple of weeks away from being fit, Nathan Shepherd has only been able to do some light training this week while injuries to Jamie Benton, Craig Donaldson and Michael Herd are more long-term.

Herd might not play again this year because of a hand injury. The player has had an operation to reconnect tendons and doctors say it could take up to 12 weeks to heal properly.

“Michael is an electrician so he needs full use of his hands to earn a living,” said Couglin. “He perhaps could come back earlier but the worry is that if he were to injure the hand again then he could lose movement in his thumb permanently.

“He has to think of his life away from football first so for that reason alone we will not be pushing him to return.”

The Shire boss is also growing increasingly frustrated by football bureaucracy which has so far prevented new signing Philipp Züfle making his debut.

They are still waiting on international clearance from Germany for the player, a process which Coughlin thought would take a few days but which is now becoming a real saga.

“When Philipp signed we thought getting the all-clear to play would take maybe four or five days but now we are at more than two weeks and we really could do with him in the squad for the game at Montrose,” he said.

“Philipp has been really patient and has been doing his bit by contacting his old club in Germany to see if they can speed things up with the German FA but we will just have to wait and see.

“You just think that Germans would be the model of efficiency when it comes to things like this but then we hear from other sources that there are often problems in getting international clearance from Germany.”

Coughlin will take his patched up squad to Montrose warning his players not to read too much into their shock 3-1 home defeat to Edinburgh City in the Scottish Cup on Saturday.

The Shire coach has his own theory over why that might have happened and says a trip to Ibrox the previous week will not have helped.

“I really do believe the game after you play Rangers at Ibrox this season will find you at your most vulnerable,” he said. “By all accounts Montrose played well but it did not seem to benefit them when they came back down to earth.”