Greg Mitchell is hoping Inverurie Locos can prove their Highland League title credentials against Buckie Thistle.
Locos started their season with a 2-0 win over Keith last weekend and take their challenge to Victoria Park tomorrow.
The Harlaw Park outfit are among a cluster of teams who will fancy their chances of bidding for the title in a shortened league season, with clubs only facing each other once.
Buckie will be one of those expected to be at the top end of the table come the end of the season, and Mitchell wants Inverurie Locos to show their capabilities against Graeme Stewart’s side.
He said: “If we want to challenge we need to beat the top teams. We’ll take it game by game but we know if we get through this one, we’ve got a run of games which could put us in a good position.
“Buckie, Brora, Formartine, Fraserburgh, Rothes – it’s a really good league to be part of this year.
“Every game will be a cup final and we need to be at it every game to put ourselves in a position to be challenging at the end of the season.
“We know Buckie will be challenging too. I know what Graeme (Stewart) will have drilled into them – they’ve won the league before. It’s games like these you want to be part of.”
Inverurie Locos have undergone some changes this summer, with the departures of Jonny Smith, Chris Angus and Ryan Stott, but Mitchell has been impressed with the standard of their recruitment.
Hamish Ritchie – back from a brief loan spell at Cove Rangers – signed after returning from America, while Nathan Meres and Kieran Shanks strengthened the forward areas after arriving from Cove and Aberdeen respectively.
Mitchell added: “We’ve recruited very well considering what’s gone on this year. Hamish, Kieran and Nathan are very good young players and could probably do a job for most Highland League teams.
“We’ve got the experience of Neil McLean, Ryan Broadhurst, myself and Neil Gauld, and it’s a breath of fresh air when you see a young player stamp his authority on it.
“I know the way the manager is thinking and so far it’s gone well.”
Meanwhile, Buckie boss Graeme Stewart believes both his side and Inverurie need to win games like tomorrow’s if they are to challenge Brora and Fraserburgh, who he sees as the two favourites for the title.
Stewart said: “It will be a very hard game and they are a team that’s been improving and have a young squad with a lot of talented players who could potentially play at a higher level.
“I think ourselves, Locos, Formartine and Rothes are the four teams slightly below Brora and Fraserburgh on paper and going by last season.
“For us to go to the next level, we need to be beating the likes of Locos.”