So the story goes we have eight players out for the Stirling Albion game. At first glance that looks pretty horrendous given the supposed lack of depth in the squad we have.
But with the exception of Andy Little away for the Northern Ireland v Russia game (the game that may never be), the now back in training Lewis Macleod, and David Templeton, whose absence is a worry, the rest are frankly no great loss.
The other ex-SPL summer signings have been a collective disappointment. From Sandaza who has been disinterested when played (with the one exception of Queen’s Park at home) and is now suspended for being a fucking eejit. The club may well be looking to get rid and I doubt there would be many tears shed if that happens.
Then there’s Dean ’12 goals’ Shiels, who hasn’t quite found a role for himself before a very nasty injury. The underperforming Ian Black, who has played the most games but struggled to impose himself for the majority of the time. Of course Kevin Kyle has left the club. Will anyone notice apart from the Auchenhowie canteen staff? For those that think that’s too harsh, how many pre-match discussions will go along the lines of ‘We’ll miss [Sandaza/Shiels/Black’s] [leadership/guile/commitment]’. No? For supposedly senior players, you don’t expect their absence to badly affect things, it could actually be quite positive.
Instead the long absentee list gives us chance to look at what could be at the Club – a young promising team with a few experienced heads out there – Alexander, Jig, and the 25 year old fullback tandem of vice-captain Lee Wallace and the Greek, Argyriou.
Chris Hegarty could be turning into a pretty useful central defender and at 20 time is on his side for that position. Jig may well partner him again which has worked well before, although we will be looking for central defensive options in the summer.
Down the wings it is time for the vastly underplayed Barrie McKay fresh from another apparent excellent show for Scotland U-19s and Aird Force One, with all the speed and great potential, from the half hour he ripped Motherwell to shreds to a late winner at Hampden. He too is a player we should be seeing a lot more of.
Kal Naismith has been played out of position and falls into the trying too hard category lately, hopefully he can get his ‘A’ game on.
Kane Hemmings we have not seen nearly enough of. He’s spent time on loan at Cowdenbeath scoring four in seven before being recalled. Ally, you recalled him; give him a chance up front. If you're not going to, what was the point of bringing him back?
If I can borrow Andy McGowan’s preferred starting XI—which I agree with 100%—if we put out Alexander, Argyriou, Hegarty, Jig, Wallace, McKay, Hutton, Crawford, Aird, Hemmings, and Naismith then the average age would be 23½. Take Jig and Alexander out and it’s 21, and that is more like it for the Club’s current position and to build a bright future. It should be the rule not the exception.
The fans mood in general doesn’t seem that great, and that’s understandable given the dross served up over the course of this campaign, but I’m really looking forward to it tomorrow. With youth getting its chance it would be fitting if they got the win that will see us as champions by the next time we play at Ibrox. That’s not just how it could be, that’s how it should be.