East Stirlingshire boss Craig Tully has used General Election week to give his current squad of players a ringing vote of confidence by asking most of them if they want to stay for next season.
And already a high proportion of them have decided to sign up for one more year with others likely to follow. In the past week Connor Greene, Max Wright and Michael Wallace have penned new deals, taking to nine the number of Shire first teamers who have signed contract extensions.
Tully knows he already has ten players signed up and ready to start pre-season training in June and is waiting on a few more to make their minds up.
He says continuity is important and should make a big difference to Shire’s preparations for the new campaign.
“Last year we were effectively starting from scratch,” he said. “And I didn’t want to get into that situation again. I think many of the players we have here have proved they are capable of forming a competitive team and if we can keep them, and add a few more quality players then I think we will be stronger when the new season starts.”
The Shire head coach is likely to seek out just a handful of fresh summer recruits but he is clear in his own mind about the kind of player he wants to bring in.
“When you look at the season just gone I think it’s fair to say we need a few older, wiser heads who have been around and have a bit of quality about them. It may well be that we run with a smaller squad just to fit it all in and on budget.”
Tully has revealed that discussions have already started with some players who he reckons would raise eyebrows by joining Shire.
“I think a few guys have looked at what we are doing here from the outside and like what they see. That’s testament to our approach to the game and, I think, shows that we must be doing something right.
“But we also have to be realistic,” he said. “Our budget is small compared to a lot of other clubs, and although the players who come here are treated really well, a lot of the time it is going to come down to money.”
The other avenue Tully is determined to pursue is bringing in young players on loan from Scotland’s top clubs. The success of Celtic’s Luke Donnelly and young Partick Thistle striker Kevin Nisbet has, says the Shire boss, shown the value of giving full-time teenagers the chance to play.
“Those signings really worked for us,” he said. “And I would be more than happy to do the same again “