Jim McInally says he’ll be satisfied with Peterhead’s pre-season preparations if they can get through tomorrow’s Premier Sport Cup clash with Stirling Albion unscathed.
The Blue Toon close out their Group A campaign at Forthbank.
Although they can’t progress to the knock-out stages of the competition, a win could see them finish second in a strong section ahead of their League One opener against Alloa Athletic next weekend.
McInally said: “If we can get through Saturday without any major injuries then I’ll have seen it as a good pre-season.
“We’ve all been in the same boat where usually we’re better prepared for the League Cup section, but most teams have had to use it as a real pre-season build-up this year – which is sad for the cup, because it’s demeaned it a wee bit.
“But I don’t think we were left with any choice, starting as early as we did and obviously a lot of teams, ourselves included, having players isolating and stuff like that.”
Ongoing Covid issues across Scottish football have made arranging friendlies over the summer difficult, resulting in the League Cup groups becoming a de facto pre-season for many teams, while several games have been forfeited due to outbreaks and players going in to isolation.
As we move closer to normality, the SFA are thought to be hopeful of convincing the Scottish Government to change the rules which require players to miss training and games if they’re a close contact of someone who tests positive for coronavirus.
In anticipation of the rules changing, Peterhead have made a point of getting their squad vaccinated and this is a move which has also left McInally hopeful for the season ahead.
He said: “It’s just trying to get in that position where we know the players are going to be ok, and that’s why we gave them all the chance last week to get their vaccinations.
“At least if we can get everybody vaccinated – and I think the SFA are encouraging the clubs to do that – then if anybody does get it I think it’ll be the case that you don’t need to isolate. So, if we can get ourselves in that position, which we will do, although we have to wait seven weeks for the players to get their second dose, then hopefully we won’t have to worry too much about forfeiting games or losing points or things like that.”
Peterhead to make changes for Stirling clash
Scotland’s longest-serving manager will make changes – some enforced – for tomorrow’s trip to League Two Stirling.
Niah Payne is expected to lead the line, with McInally expecting another 90 minutes to do the hard-working Englishman – who has recently relocated to Scotland to boost his Blue Toon career – the “world of good”.
McInally explained: “It’s a bonus that it’s not a dead rubber as such and there will be a decent crowd there because Stirling Albion are well supported.
“They are big hitters in that league now. They were last year with their budget and they’ve done the same again this year and brought in players who are above the league they are playing in.
“That’s why the game is such a good test, for our younger players especially. It’s quite a hostile wee place to play and the pitch will be really good, it’s always a good pitch. I’m looking forward to it.
“We’ll make changes again to make sure everybody’s getting plenty of game time before the campaign starts.
“Russell McLean’s suspended tomorrow and Alan Cook has been carrying an injury for a couple of weeks and we’ve decided to give him a wee bit of a rest now to let him get over that.
“We’re kind of limited to what changes we can make, but we’ll still make changes.
“Andy McCarthy’s out. He could be back next week, because he’s done a bit of running this week. He strained his hamstring against Hearts and it was minimum two weeks with that. He’s getting closer, but hopefully he’ll be back against Alloa next week.”