Paul Hartley reckons Cove Rangers have enough quality to cause Betfred Cup opponents Hibernian problems.
Cove play their first competitive game in seven months tomorrow at home to the in-form Premiership side, however they went unbeaten in the league last season at the Balmoral Stadium.
Hartley also stressed the need for his own players to be at the top of their game, if Cove are to get something against Jack Ross’ side.
He said: “It’s a team that’s near the top end of the table after a wonderful start. We’ve got to be at our best – we need to be on it for the whole game, in and out of possession. Our discipline has got to be good and hopefully we can cause them problems.
“It’s about concentration and discipline. You’ve got to keep your focus, you can’t switch off. They’ve got players in the final third that can hurt you.
“Hopefully we can create enough chances and if we do, we’ve got be ruthless and take it. I think we’ve got enough quality in the final third to create chances. It’ll be a game for everyone to be at their best; we can’t afford anyone off their game.”
Cove players were tested for Covid-19 this week, in line with the protocols for facing a Premiership side. All tests came back negative, a welcome lift in the wake of the situation around the Scotland squad.
Hartley added: “You’re never quite sure but everything is good, so that’s been a positive to come through it unscathed.”
The main aim for Hartley has always been the League One opener against East Fife next weekend and while tomorrow’s lunchtime encounter is one to look forward to, the following game against Brora Rangers on Tuesday night limits their preparation time for the league campaign.
Hartley said: “Preparation has been as good as we could have hoped for. We’ve not had competitive games – Hibs are obviously 10 games into the season – but we’ve done a lot of work this week and we’ll have a gameplan for Saturday.
“They’ve got a lot of good players and a lot of speed in their team. They’re a good counter-attacking team and their strikers are on form. We don’t know what team they’ll put out but they’ve got a lot of good options. We’re a massive underdogs for the game and no-one will give us a chance of winning. But we’ve shown we’re a strong team at home and we’ll try do ourselves proud as much as we can.
“The first two games are a build-up to the first league game against East Fife. We’ll have to put a lot of work into Saturday’s game and then we’ve got a long journey on Tuesday night (to Brora). We’ll have one day of preparation for East Fife and that’ll be Thursday.
“It’s just about getting as much work in as we can over the next two games and come out of them unscathed with no injuries.”
Seb Ross looks likely to miss the game with a knock while midfielder Fraser Fyvie, who hurt his knee in a pre-season game at Dens Park, could also miss out.
Hartley added: “The game might be too soon for him (Fyvie). Rory (McAllister), Broque Watson, (Ryan) Strachan; we assessed them last night and we’ll just have to wait and see.”