East Stirlingshire will welcome back some of their more experienced players for this weekend’s League Cup-tie against Ayr United at Ochilview.
Keeper Richie Barnard and central defender Chris Townsley will once again be available for selection after missing the Petrofac Training Cup defeat against Falkirk last week.
And there’s more good news for coach Craig Tully with the return of former Forfar midfielder Neil McCabe to training. The 24 year-old’s still some way off making his Shire debut after his summer move but Tully will still be pleased to see another key part of his plans now at least on the road to full recovery.
Despite last weekend’s hefty defeat the Shire coach is optimistic for this weekend and the season ahead. The loss to the Bairns was a sore one to take but, with five players missing from the match, it allowed him to test his younger players in the toughest of environments.
“I thought for about 70 minutes we did about as well as we could have expected,” he said. “In fact, I would go as far as to say I was really pleased with the performance in that spell. But there’s no point dwelling on it. We had an inexperienced team out and they will benefit in the long run from the chance to play against a good quality full-time opposition.”
With a stronger starting eleven available to him for this week’s match against Ayr United, Tully will be hoping Shire can quickly turn a corner. Saturday’s opponents had their own disappointment to deal with last weekend when they were knocked out of the Petrofac Training Cup by Clyde.
“We’ve done our homework on them,” he said. “We’ve had them watched and we know they will be a good side. They are in a division above us so we know we will have to work hard but we go into every match believing we can win and it will be the same on Saturday.”
Although Tully isn’t naming his side yet for this weekend’s game it’s certain that former Camelon Juniors keeper Barnard will return between the sticks. The 33 year-old former Queen of the South goalie was a key addition to his squad in the close season and has already shown what he will bring to the club.
“Richie’s been in good form in the pre-season games and I think is going to be a great signing for us,” he said. “He has bags of experience and has been full-time in England, he’s played in the Conference and in the First Division here with Queen of the South.
“We are hoping he is going to be one of the key components in the team this season.”
Teenage understudy Connor Shaw did not have the most comfortable of afternoon’s against Falkirk but the coach reckons all the teenage lads who came into a makeshift team last weekend will benefit from the experience.
“They all should learn from it,” he said. “We had quite a few lads in the team on Saturday who might not have got the chance if it hadn’t been for circumstances.
“They all played really well and they will only get better by playing in games like that. Not all of them are going to play in the first team every week but they have to be ready to do so and last week will help with that, so that’s one positive to take out of it.”