East Stirlingshire will have to do without their two most experienced players for Saturday’s important league match at fellow Third Division strugglers Clyde.
Midfielder David Greenhill is serving a one game ban for picking up too many yellow cards over the course of the season while club captain Kevin Turner, even if he had not been starting his own two match suspension, would have missed the game anyway because of injury.
To add to Shire boss John Coughlin’s woes he is unlikely to have Michael Herd available either. The attacking midfielder made his first appearance in a month as a substitute in last week’s 2-1 defeat against Montrose, but lasted only 20 minutes before having to be replaced himself.
It is unlikely he will be risked for a game which may turn out to be crucial for Shire’s chances of avoiding another last place finish in the league table.
Coughlin has until the weekend to try and bring in more loan signings but even that market looks as though it may be drying up. The addition of Stenhousemuir defender Jack Hamilton was the one bright spot in last week’s match with the Shire coach impressed by his contribution.
“I thought he did really well,” said Coughlin. “Jack is a versatile player who can play in midfield as well and that could be important to us with so many people out at the moment.”
But to move the on-loan Warrior away from right-back into a midfield space where he might be more urgently needed would require Coughlin to find an additional defender on loan, and that might not be so easy.
“We do have a lot of issues right now with injuries and suspensions and there is no doubt we could do with an extra couple of players. We brought Jack in and that has helped us but we will continue to look and see what is out there and if a deal can be done before Saturday.”
The Shire boss could do with more help in central defence following the loss of Raymond Buchanan and that is likely to be his top priority. He has only until the weekend to bring someone in because, under SFL rules, clubs can only field registered players after the end of March.
That also means Shire will not be able to use trialists and, with so many different issues with team selection, that will limit Coughlin’s options further.
The club currently sit bottom of the pile but the encouraging thing is that they are not languishing there as they were towards the end of last season.
“We certainly do not want to finish bottom of the league,” he said. “But at least that is in our own hands this season. Last year we were so far behind we were looking for results elsewhere to go our way, but we don’t need that this time.
“It is a situation we are able to influence ourselves, although we know that unless we start getting points that will change.”
Coughlin is convinced his team do not deserve to be struggling where they are and had hoped things would have worked out differently. Despite all that, he says progress is being made, albeit slowly.
“We are trying to look at a bigger picture as well,” said the Shire coach. “We have more points than last season, and have won more matches as well. I think there is no doubt we have improved the quality of player within the financial limits set. That is important, but so id trying to get a few more wins that would get us away from the bottom of the table.”
Shire’s recent record at Clyde is poor and their hosts have certainly perked up a bit after looking for a while as though they were going to be the side left stranded at the foot of the table.
Coughlin’s men can look back on two Ochilview victories against Saturday’s opponents that were as convincing as anything Shire have managed all season, 3-0 wins each time, so at least they know they have the measure of Clyde.