East Stirlingshire have been dealt a blow ahead of Saturday’s Lowland League game against Preston Athletic after skipper Derek Ure was ruled out of the Ochilview clash through suspension.
The 32 year-old midfield lynchpin has had a two game SFA ban slapped on him after his red card in last weekend’s 9-0 win over Newton Stewart. He’ll miss this weekend’s game and Shire’s next game in the South Region Challenge Cup, which won’t be played until March.
Coach John Sludden would have much preferred Ure to be available for the game against the league’s bottom side but says it is an opportunity for someone else to stake a claim for the vacant place in the starting eleven.
“It does give someone a chance to come in and show us what they can do,” said the Shire boss. “It’s happened two or three times this season when some of the boys have been out injured. Other guys have come in, taken their place and stayed in the team.
“It’s good that we have the kind of squad where you can bring someone else in without reducing the quality in the team.”
That said there’s no doubt that Sludden would much prefer to have had his club captain on the pitch rather than in the stand on Saturday. He recognises that Ure has probably been the most influential member of his squad in a number of different ways.
But he says anyone coming in will be just a straight, like-for-like swap.
“Derek is a very important player for us,” said Sludden. “But we won’t be changing our style of play or our system all that much. Whoever comes in will play a similar role.
“There will two or three thinking they have a chance of getting that place in the team and I’m sure they’ll be out to impress in training. That will only be good for us.”
This weekend’s encounter with Preston Athletic will be the first time Shire have played a team holding bottom place since the now infamous trip to Selkirk in September.
Lessons have clearly been learned since Shire were embarrassed that afternoon at Yarrow Park. After shipping seven goals to Selkirk that day, Sludden’s men have conceded just five in their subsequent nine matches, and two of those came from the penalty spot.