Leighton McIntosh believes Cove Rangers have the quality in the squad to cope with a demanding season.
Cove played their first competitive game in seven months on Saturday and emerged with great credit, taking the lead against Premiership side Hibernian before going down 2-1.
They face Brora Rangers tonight away from home in the second game of the Betfred Cup with little turnaround time, and their League One opener against East Fife just around the corner.
Players’ fitness takes on increased importance this year with the addition of full-time opposition to their schedule, with a shortened league season also to factor in.
McIntosh is confident they can handle the pressures of this season, starting with Brora tonight.
He said: “Going anywhere to play an away game is going to be a little bit tougher. I’m fully confident we’ve got the players in the squad to get results and keep that level we showed on Saturday.
“The boys have worked brilliantly in pre-season. You saw on Saturday our fitness levels. We’ve got a really strong squad and every position is up for challenges, so I think we can keep it fresh at all times.”
McIntosh was one of the stand-out performers in the game against the Hibees, getting the better of his duel with Lewis Stevenson. The former Dundee and Peterhead forward started in a wide-right role on Saturday, something he is comfortable doing.
Cove took the lead through Dan Higgins’ first-half free-kick but were pegged back in the second period through goals from Jamie Gullan and Kevin Nisbet.
Despite the result, McIntosh believes they should take great heart from the way they performed against Premiership opponents.
He added: “It was a tough start to the season but I thought we handled it really well. We started really positively and didn’t let them settle. We were pressing them high and performance-wise I thought we did really well.
“I think first and foremost we needed to defend, but the gaffer said, when we get the ball, do what we’re good at and show our quality. I think we did that and we were just unlucky not to get another goal.”