New Selkirk manager John Coughlin hopes to find out who in the ranks are the most committed to playing for Selkirk, as he bids to put together his strongest team.
The new gaffer was hit by a spate of call-offs before and during last weekend’s match at BSC Glasgow – Coughlin’s first in charge – which reduced his preferred starting XI by around half.
He hoped this week to assess who could come back and who might motivate themselves to come back a little quicker, while aiming to plug the gaps with players from the U20s squad.
The Souters were already without Phil Addison, David Banjo and Andy Fleming before taking on second-placed BSC Glasgow at the Indodrill Stadium. Captain Ryan Sclater withdrew through illness that morning, while they lost Ricky Miller – Coughlin’s nephew – in the warm-up, then Calum Helm suffered an injury about 20 minutes into the game.
Coughlin raided the U20s line-up to replace approximately half the team, and said several of the young players acquitted themselves very well.
The game was settled by a first-half goal from Robbie Duncan of BSC – but Coughlin said there were a lot of positives.
“We were in the game right up until the final minute,” he said. “Daryl Healy had a fantastic chance to take something from the game, going one on one with the keeper but unfortunately didn’t manage to convert. We were happy with the effort and application of the players – they gave it their all against a very, very experienced side.”
However, the problems were piling up already for the new boss. It was suspected that Addison, troubled by a hamstring problem, may not play again this season, while Banjo could be out for at least a month, amid the other injury worries, while the club was also without a physiotherapist.
“As a new manager with a new squad of players, you want to get off to the best possible start but we are restricted with what we have available to us at the minute,” he said.
“When you get that amount of players calling off in the first game, or not being able to train, that’s problematic. I don’t know if it’s symptomatic of what’s happened over the course of the season, but it certainly didn’t help my case come Saturday.
“I need to look at this and see what players can get back, who wants to come back, and who’ll push themselves to come back a bit earlier, because I need them to be determined to play. There didn’t seem to be that air about the squad.
“I have certain standards and I will certainly not be dropping them. That’s the message that goes out from everybody that’s associated with the club at the minute, as it stands, from me.”
Coughlin said a win was really needed tomorrow (Saturday) in the home game against Stirling University.
Coughlin had seen Stirling University – and Selkirk, being related to Ricky Miller – a few times in the Lowland League this season and knew they would be hurting after recent defeats by Gretna 2008 and Hawick Royal Albert.
“Stirling University, in their own right, have a lot of good football players and what we can’t afford to do is lose another game,” said Coughlin.
“We have lost the last two – the East Stirlingshire game, with Ricky in caretaker charge, and myself on Saturday.
“They are difficult ones to follow up but we have three home games in a row now, so we have to try and make sure that works to our advantage.”
Coughlin added: “If Selkirk have their best players available, they are a match for anyone in the league. But losing some key players makes you a bit vulnerable.”
Regarding Stirling’s players, he added he was a particular admirer of Chris Geddes, who was managing them now. “I hope he remains in the technical area and not on the pitch on Satuday,” he quipped.