Shire to trim squad fringe players

06/08/11. John Devlin. Stenhousemuir, East Stirling v Montrose.  Shire coach John Coughlin.
06/08/11. John Devlin. Stenhousemuir, East Stirling v Montrose. Shire coach John Coughlin.
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East Stirlingshire coach John Coughlin is getting ready to loan out some of his fringe squad members.

In the space of a week the Shire boss has gone from only having enough players to fill the bench to a surplus after the introduction of three new faces on loan.

He says that the arrival of Lewis Horner, Rhys Devlin and striker Graeme Ramage now means a couple will be surplus to requirements and he will seek to find them loan spells with other clubs.

One who falls into that category is Ryan Frances. The Shire defender is nearing the end of a mammoth, headline-grabbing 12 match ban and Coughlin says he needs games.

“I have been in contact with a couple of junior clubs during the week about taking some of our fringe boys out on loan,” he said. “Ryan Frances only has two games of his ban to go and he is certainly one who will need to get match fitness before he can think of a return to the team.

“A spell out on loan might suit him and it is an option I am considering for a couple of other players who might not feature regularly for us,” said Coughlin.

A 3-1 weekend win over Montrose has lifted the spirits at the club as has the arrival of the new loan signings.

Coughlin was especially delighted to secure the services of Hibernian midfielder Horner until the end of the season. The Shire coach had worried that he may never have seen the talented teenager again after Hibs recalled him from a previous two month loan spell.

“To be honest, I was never sure Lewis would come back,” he said. “Hibs wanted to have talks with the players about his future and no-one was sure whether he was even going to be kept on at Easter Road.

“But that has all been cleared up now and we are grateful to everyone at Hibs for allowing Lewis to come back until the end of the season.”

Last Friday was a busy day for Shire with the loan signings of Graeme Ramage from Dumbarton and Rhys Devlin from Airdrie United also being completed. Both players had to make do with a place on the substitutes bench on Saturday but Coughlin says they will get their turn.

“Neither of them had played much football recently,” he said. “I thought we would get their match sharpness up first and, in any case, I thought the team that had played so well at Peterhead the week previously deserved another chance.

“But you could see even in the brief time that Graeme and Rhys were quality players who will add something to our squad. Rhys, in particular, is a lad who was playing regularly in the Second Division earlier in the season and can fill in a number of different positions.

“He certainly will be able to give us a bit of defensive dig, which is something we have been lacking of late.”

Their inclusion gives Coughlin a pleasant problem for a change as he ponders his team selection for this weekend’s visit to Annan Athletic. He is caught between sticking with the same starting eleven who have not done much wrong over the past two matches, or making changes to include the new boys.

“We will see how things go in training this week,” he said. “I have always tried to pick teams according to who we were playing and certainly Annan will be a different proposition to Montrose, especially when they are at home.

“But we have already beaten Annan this season, so we should not have too much to fear. Although, that said, they will be stronger this time because they will include Sean O’Connor in their team.

“He missed out through injury when we beat them 1-0 at Ochilview in December and he is certainly one of the best players in the Third Division. He ran riot when we went down there in September and we lost 3-0, so we know we will have to be careful,” said Coughlin.