Shire skipper Kevin Turner is a serious doubt for Sunday’s big Scottish Cup-tie against Raith Rovers at Ochilview.
Turner injured his knee in a collision with Annan Athletic keeper Kenny Arthur in Tuesday’s 2-1 win at Galabank and had to be replaced after less than half an hour.
It could not have come at a worse time for coach John Coughlin who has had to contend with injuries to every other striker in his first team squad. Paul Quinn, Jamie Glasgow and Max Wright have all been out for the last two games, and if Turner is sidelined it could leave him without a recognised forward to include in Sunday’s squad.
The Shire coach says it is still too early to tell the seriousness of the club captain’s injury which will be further assessed by physio Tony Morgan at their regular training session tonight (Thursday).
“Kevin went knee-to-knee with the goalkeeper and that kind of injury is difficult to assess,” he said. “We will have a look at him at training on Thursday night but I think he is going to be doubtful for Sunday’s game.
“The good thing is that he has an extra day to rest up but there is no doubt it is a worry for us.”
Coughlin now must be hoping for a speedy return for either Glasgow or Wright, or even both, but the coach is not convinced that either will be fit enough to face Raith Rovers.
“I am hoping both will train on Thursday night,” said Coughlin. “But whether either of them will be fit enough to play is debateable right now. But I am still hopeful that they will both be in the squad.”
One bonus for Shire is the return of Michael Herd. Although not a natural striker the attacking midfielder, who has been out of action since February, can play up front and did so with some success for an hour after replacing Turner on Tuesday night.
It was only the former Whitehill Welffare player’s second substitute appearance since returning from his lengthy absence with a groin injury and Coughin says it showed promise.
“Michael showed when he went on that he can play up front and that is a bonus for us. We are starting again to pick up points and getting some of the players back from injury is an added bonus. Having Herd back in the squad is important for us as we aim to stay at the top of the league.”
But there is no doubting the difficult challenge facing Shire on Sunday. Raith Rovers are riding high in the Championship, two divisions above their opponents, and are now looking forward to a Ramsdens Cup final game against Rangers.
Coughlin has had his full-time opponents watched and is under no illusion about just how difficult a task it will be to pull off a cup shock.
“They are a class side and will be looking at this match as an excellent opportunity to progress in the cup. I see it as a game where we have absolutely nothing to lose.
“But I want to see our players give it everything. I would like to think there will be a decent crowd, we will have home advantage and I hope as well a lot of Shire supporters will come and back their team who, after all, are sitting top of the league and who are playing some decent football.
“There is no doubt that we are top of the league on merit and we are gaining confidence from winning football matches. That should mean we will have the right attitude to go out and give a good account of ourselves against a very difficult set of opponents.”
The club has set admission prices for Sunday’s cup-tie at £12 for adults and £6 for concessions. Kick-off is at 3:00pm.