East Stirlingshire coach John Coughlin is working on different striking options this week following the return of Rangers’ Calum Gallagher to Ibrox.
The Glasgow giants decided not to extend the 19 year-old’s loan spell this week which, along with a persistent injury to skipper Kevin Turner, leaves Coughlin with plenty of thinking to do ahead of this weekend’s SPFL Scottish League Two trip to Clyde.
The Shire boss was pinning his hopes on Galllagher being allowed to stay with the club until the end of the season. But that avenue was closed this week and Coughlin will now have to move on to other options.
“Calum went out with a bang scoring a goal last week that rescued a point for us against Albion Rovers. We are indebted to him and we are better for the experience of having him here,” he said. “He has had some great exposure, people were raving about his performances and he gave us a real boost while he was available to us.”
But now Shire will have to think about what to do next and without both of his main striking options Coughlin admits there could be a change of plan on how to approach the Clyde match.
“Not having Kevin (Turner) available to us does change the way be play. We have some options open to us, though and Josh Watt who we have on loan from Stenhousemuir, is looking forward to a start and Saturday may be the day for him.
“Jamie Glasgow, Paul Quinn and Max Wright are other striking options available to us and we will do some work over the course of the week and hopefully we can execute a game plan that gets us the points,” said the Shire boss.
Whatever that plan is Coughlin says it will have to be a bit more expansive than the performance against Albion Rovers. Even he was forced to admit that it was hardly the most entertaining game but he wants to make changes which will make his Shire team easier to watch.
“I think the surface at Clyde will suit us and it will encourage the players to get it on the pitch and pass it more,” he said. “When you have a quick striker like Calum Gallagher I think one of the traps you fall into is playing a long ball game. Perhaps we forgot for the spell he was with us that you can play football through the middle of the pitch,
“I am striving to get back to that and there is no doubt we have some good football players in the middle third of the pitch and I think we need to keep hold of the ball for longer periods,” said Coughlin.
The Clyde game is a crucial one for Shire. The league is perhaps the tightest in Britain at the moment with one result sending teams climbing up a ladder or slithering down a snake.
Coughlin’s side have occupied sixth spot for a couple of weeks and victory could, if results elsewhere fall into place, see Shire open up some clear distance between themselves and the bottom four and perhaps also push them higher up the league.
Saturday’s opponents have enjoyed a great season so far but their recent form has been indifferent, with Saturday’s 1-0 win at Annan Athletic bringing to an end a four game run without a victory.
In spite of that they remain four points clear of Shire and Coughlin is determined to cut that dramatically with a win at Broadwood on Saturday.
“They hit a slump but came back with a bang on Saturday,” he said. “They will be looking to do well. It’s a home game for them, they will have a very voiciferous crowd behind them. But matches between us have been quite tight this season and both teams will have an eye on one of the play-off spots. So it’s very much a case of, game on.”