Injury to Herd puts pressure on midfielders

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East Stirlingshire’s search for a new face in midfield has this week been given added urgency by a freak injury suffered by top scorer Michael Herd.

The former Whitehill Welfare player, who has already hit the back of the net four times, now has his arm in a cast after suffering an accident at home.

Now, coach John Coughlin has intensified his attempts to find the kind of player who can pass the ball accurately from midfield and chip in with a few goals as well.

“Michael started the season really well and was grabbing the headlines for a while,” said the Shire boss. “But it has become a bit stop-start for him and this latest problem won’t help us or Michael. He is most likely to be out for four weeks and that creates an issue for us.”

Prior to Herd’s injury Coughlin had already begun to look for a new talent in midfield but this latest setback puts that into sharper focus. He was hopeful of bringing in a player on loan with experience of playing in the SPL but that does not look like it will happen in time for Saturday’s game with Clyde.

“Things have gone a bit quiet on that,” he admitted. “However, I will be contacting the club because the player is good and has played regularly at a level higher than the Third Division.

“That aside, we have a similar type of player on trial right now who has impressed us all and it might be possible to bring him into the squad.”

Coughlin is adamant that he needs personnel changes in key areas even this early in the season. A 3-1 win against Stirling Albion last weekend relieved some of the pressure on the team currently bottom of the table, but the coach knows they must get better.

He was far from impressed with the side’s performance in the derby victory and, having watched Shire stutter in the first couple of months of the campaign, is determined to improve things within the financial limits set.

“We needed a bit of quality in defence and in midfield,” he said. “We brought Sean Kelly in on loan from St. Mirren and after a slow start he has really come on to a game in the centre-half position.

“Unfortunately, he picked up a knock on Saturday and is doubtful for the Clyde game. He is receiving daily help from the physios at St. Mirren but I would say at the moment it is looking likely that we will have to do without him for the next game.”

Clyde are riding high in the Third Division table and will come to Ochilview in decent spirits despite suffering a derby day defeat at the hands of Queen’s Park last weekend.

The Bully Wee side will likely feature three former Shire players in Paul Hay, John Neill and Kevin Watt who will all have their own motivation for doing well, as Coughlin found out last season.

“John Neill, in particular, gave our team all sorts of problems and he seemed to score in every game we played against them. Paul Hay was just the type of player we needed at the club last year to steady things at the back and did a job for Clyde.

“But they have other weapons too. They have signed Stuart McColm from Stranraer and he is a very dangerous player. There is no doubt we will have to improve on our performance against Stirling Albion if we are to stand a chance, but I believe we are capable of being a far better team than we have been showing in recent matches.”

One piece of good news is that Craig Donaldson came through a midweek training session after being ruled out of the Stirling Albion match. The fans favourite has only put in two substitute appearances this term after spending a year out injured. Coughlin may be tempted to risk him if he manages another successful night at training tonight (Thursday).