Boss Jim McIntyre looks set to use the SPFL Trust Trophy encounter with Raith Rovers as a chance to give a few of his senior players a much-needed rest.
Having operated with a relatively small pool in the opening part of the campaign, the gaffer has admitted he has been forced to ask a lot of some of them, and with vital league games on the horizon, the cup-tie is an opportunity to test the strength of his squad.
The manager says he would have liked to see more of the recent signings getting game time in this one, but has been thwarted in the cases of Charlie Gilmour and Kyle McClelland:
“Charlie has already played in the competition for St Johnstone B, while Kyle turned out for Hibs B, and that means neither is available to me.
“But Max Johnston can play, and it’s also going to be a chance to get Cieran Dunne and Luis Longstaff more minutes on the pitch. Gerry McDonagh is making a good recovery from his fractured wrist, he’s got a lighter cast on now, so he will also come into my thinking.”
Joining Charlie and Kyle on the sidelines will be Scott Ross and Fraser Fyvie.
Scott injured his knee shortly before half-time in the draw at Firhill while Fraser has a hamstring problem which is being monitored, and he won’t be considered.
Evan Towler is also unavailable, the on-loan Aberdeen youngster being away on international duty with Scotland under-19s.
One man who looks certain to start is midfielder Blair Yule, finally getting his season up and running after the recurrence of an ankle injury back in July.
After having an injection, and stepping up training in the past fortnight, Blair made his welcome return to the side as a late substitute against Partick Thistle, and says that came as a huge relief:
“Being named in the squad for the Thistle game was brilliant, and it was great to get on for the last fifteen minutes, just in time for Mark Reynolds to turn into a goal machine!
“It was really difficult. All I wanted to do was get out there and help the boys. Seeing them facing up to challenging times and not being able to play my part was the most frustrating thing.
“So, it’s good to be back in the mix and I can’t wait to get in some minutes out on the pitch.”
After last season’s run to the semi-finals, all the players are hoping to go one better this time round. Consolidation in the cinch Championship is the main priority, but skipper Mitch Megginson says a cup run would also be very welcome:
“We went far in this competition last season and were disappointed to not reach the final, so if we’re to have a chance at winning the trophy, we’re going to have to put the holders out.
“We’ve shown in recent years the drive we have to be successful. There’s no point being a Cove Rangers player if you don’t have that desire to win games and trophies, and that is no different this season.
“The new boys have settled in well at the club, and this will be a chance for some of them to try to prove they deserve a more regular starting place.”
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