East Stirlingshire have made former Camelon Juniors striker, Kevin Kelbie, their first new signing for their 2017/18 Lowland League season.
The 32 year-old has been with Linlithgow Rose for the past three years but will join Shire when his current contract with the Prestonfield club expires during the close season.
Kelbie has been a goal threat in the juniors for the past few seasons after spending the bulk of his career in the Irish League with Glentoran, Ballymena United and Glenavon.
The announcement of his arrival has met with approval from the Shire faithful, who have quickly taken to social media to hail Kelbie’s signing. It may also represent a smart bit of business by coach John Sludden.
Although the Shire boss has been keen to stress that his signing priorities for the summer revolve around strengthening the central defence and the midfield, uncertainty surrounding the future of Jamie Glasgow makes Kelbie’s signing a decent insurance policy.
Glasgow is the only one of the Shire strike force that scored the overwhelming majority of their 134 competitive goals last season still not to commit to the forthcoming campaign, and Kelbie at least assures the coach that he has other options.
Sludden was due to return from holiday this week and that could mean even more new faces. Work has been going on behind the scenes to target players he feels will improve Shire’s chances of winning the league title at the second time ofasking, after missing out to East Kilbride last season.
Kelbie’s arrival doesn’t look like being the last and when the squad returns on July 1 it’s clear he wants to have as many berths as possible already tied down.
Sludden already has a number of last season’s squad signed up on contracts for the new season and continuity has been his watchword after the rushed start to last term, when the newly-installed Shire coach was forced by circumstances into signing an almost new squad of players from scratch.
Two pre-season friendlies have already been fixed up, against top junior side Arthurlie and East of Scotland League Tynecastle, and at least one more is due to be announced.
Shire fans can expect to find out next week what their Lowland League programme will look like.
Fixture schedulers will wait until after the SPFL lists are announced this week before giving out their own dates so as to avoid, as much as possible, clashes for Lowland League clubs, like Shire, who share matchday facilities with Scottish League sides.