Cove Rangers boss Paul Hartley is looking for “strong performances” in their remaining Betfred Cup group games – starting tonight at Inverness Caley.
The Aberdeen side head north on the back of a 0-0 Group D draw with the Highlanders’ fellow Championship contenders Dundee at the Balmoral Stadium last Wednesday.
New boss Hartley wants Cove to continue building towards their maiden SPFL season – which kicks off at home to Edinburgh City on August 3 – tonight against John Robertson’s side and when Raith Rovers come to town on Saturday.
He said: “It would be very good to get really strong performances from the lads and build up the work rate which is going to be expected of them this season.
“Places are up for grabs, so if you want to get in the team, you need to work really hard.”
Hartley, who watched his team fall 2-1 away at Peterhead in their Betfred Cup opener, added: “It’s another good test for us against a team I think will be challenging for the Championship.
“I’ve always been impressed with Robbo’s teams and worked under him as a player at Hearts.
“He’s built a good squad there, who had a good season last year.
“I expect a good test for us, but it’s a test we’re looking forward to.
“We’ve acquitted ourselves pretty well in the two games. Dundee was really pleasing and we deserved a draw at least.
“But it’s tough going up to Inverness. They’re very strong at home and don’t lose many games.”
Cove were successful against Dundee by taking the game to their rivals – and Hartley is keen to see them do the same again.
He said: “We’ll go and be really positive and have a go.
We’ve nothing to lose and we’ve not even been in three weeks.
“We’re trying to get our point across to the players and haven’t spent a lot of time on the training ground yet because it’s been hectic with the games.
“The times we have been on the training ground, we’ve put our points across on how we want to play in possession or out of possession.”
The boss still thinks his part-time squad can get fitter, something which could be felt more acutely against full-time Caley.
Hartley is also set to be without a few key men as he continues to try to add depth to his squad before the league kick-off.
Last night, Cove signed Dundee United’s 19-year-old midfielder Declan Glass on loan.
Hartley said: “There’s a possibility Mitch Megginson will miss out again tonight.
“You don’t take any major risks at this stage, because if we play him and he ends up with a serious injury, we’re missing our top striker for a number of weeks.”
Hartley added: “Jamie Redman’s out, Ryan Strachan’s out, Darryn Kelly’s away on holiday, so we’re not at our strongest yet, we know that. Scott Ross is suspended because he picked up two yellows.
“So we’re very light on numbers.”