I wanted to come back and try to help Souters
Returning Selkirk FC manager Ian Fergus says his chief priority is to help the Souters hold on to fifth place, for what would be a marvellous finish in the Lowland League.
The 49-year-old surprisingly found himself back in the managerial chair at Yarrow Park, following John Coughlin’s decision to leave after only six weeks.
Fergus, who has extensive coaching experience on several continents, said he felt an affinity with the Selkirk players, many of whom he signed, and was happy to come back and help them and the club conclude their current campaign.
The boss has a vastly-reduced squad to work with, after the disbandment of the under-20 team - and its players swiftly being snapped up other clubs, such as Spartans, Whitehill Welfare and Newtongrange Star.
Fergus has only around a dozen fit players to choose from at present which, he said, was reminiscent of the scenario when he first came to the club at the end of 2016.
But, with relegation not a threat, he is urging the players simply to go out and play and do their best in the remaining games to pick up points.
He has reintroduced regular training sessions, in which he believes passionately, and set a target of 50 league points for Selkirk - 10 more than they have at present, and probably several more than they need to retain fifth place.
But he feels it’s worthwhile trying to set a testing goal and see if it could be attained.
Fergus knows a tough task is ahead, with such a depleted squad and a number of midweek and Saturday fixtures to come, and he knows all the games themselves will be difficult.
Against Edusport Academy last Saturday, the Souters had a 16-year-old on the bench, only two defenders, and other players playing out of their regular positions, such as Sean McKirdy at centre back.
Calum Helm and Reece Donaldson are likely to be out for the rest of the season, with knee and shoulder injuries respectively, while striker Phil Addison has been a long-term injury absentee.
The Souters lost 3-0 but, while Fergus said Edusport were a good team, he said Selkirk had played very well and he did not believe the scoreline was a true reflection of the match.
“It was a game of three errors and three goals, very quickly,” he said. “We only had two defenders - whether it was me, John Coughlin or Jose Mourinho in the dug-out, there was not a lot you could do about it.”
Despite the difficulties, Fergus said he would try and take as strong a squad as possible through to Dalbeattie Star on Saturday.
Clubs near the foot of the table, such as Star, Vale of Leithen and Whitehill Welfare, could still be in danger of being relegated along with Hawick Royal Albert, depending on various complicated permutations involving whoever finished bottom in Ladbrokes League Two and the top sides in the Highland and East of Scotland Leagues.
“Dalbeattie are scrapping for their lives but their league position belies their ability,” said Fergus. “They are a good side - they play some lovely football and I would say they will not go down. They will pull away from it - but hopefully not on Saturday.
“Vale of Leithen are under pressure too - Gala Fairydean Rovers should be safe on 31 points, but they can be caught.”
Fergus added he hoped to talk to the Selkirk players after this weekend’s game about possible re-signing arrangements and plans for next season.