Fraserburgh boss Mark Cowie thinks their return to action in the Scottish Cup “is a lot of endeavour for potentially one game”.
The Broch will meet fellow Highland League side Nairn County or League One Montrose in the third round at Bellslea on April 3 after the SFA revealed revised dates for this season’s competition.
In order to complete this term’s Scottish Cup, Highland sides were also permitted to play their outstanding second and third round ties if they too test in the build-up to those matches.
The Highland League proper has also been on hold since January and, with teams reluctant to take on the financial burden of weekly testing, has yet to receive the go-ahead from the Scottish Government to return.
Broch boss Cowie has mixed emotions over the prospect of their Scottish Cup tie in a few weeks’ time and feels there are still “unanswered questions” before his team can even return to training.
He said: “If the Government have come out and said ‘you must do this if you want to play’, then the SFA throw in the cup dates, we’re sitting there thinking ‘how do we test? Are the results within 10 minutes or two days?’
“It’s all logistics and planning we need to put into place.
“It’s football back, it’s what we all wanted and I’ve been banging the drum long enough to get the game back and now we’re getting it – it’s just a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be.
“We haven’t got a date for when we’ll start training, we need to sort out the testing side first.
“I believe we test once a week and that covers us even if we want to train two, three times a week. The guys who test negative can train and if anyone tests positive, touch wood, they have to isolate.
“It’s a lot of work and endeavour for potentially one game, that’s what’s getting me.”
Cowie thinks, due to unavailability of other facilities, Fraserburgh may also be forced to train at Bellslea, something which “won’t do any good for the game against Montrose or Nairn”.
He feels the cup ties are being “rushed”, and the tight turnaround between months of inactivity and a return to training and competitive football will be detrimental to his players, saying: “They’re delighted there’s going to be something. They want the whole package back, but they do understand there’s a lot of other questions to be answered.
“It goes back to the fact we all want football back, but at what cost – We’re throwing in this game in three weeks’ time and my guys haven’t done anything since the start of January.
“We have to try and get them conditioned for that game. There’s going to be a massive added risk of injuries.”
Bellslea gaffer Cowie remains of the opinion the protocols, including temperature testing and social distancing, which saw the Highland League start up in November would suffice to get league games under way again.
Cowie added: “I get the offer was given from leagues above us to test, but I don’t think it fits everybody. We’ve been put in a position where it’s going to be difficult to get our league back unless things change.
“They are accelerating the easing of lockdown, so hopefully there will come a stage we can still get the league done.
“There’s a wee bit of happiness we get a game, but a wee bit of disappointment that it’s a lot of work to play potentially one game.
“However, the carrot’s there to try to win and get into the next round against the big guns.
“We’re looking forward to it, but have a lot of work to do to get there and a lot of questions (to answer) to get us there.”