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Duncan Shearer: League Cup gives Aberdeen a chance to start the season in style

Aberdeen's Ross McRorie against Buckie Thistle's Mark McLauchlan during a pre-season friendly.
Aberdeen's Ross McRorie against Buckie Thistle's Mark McLauchlan during a pre-season friendly.

The Premier Sports Cup can be the springboard Aberdeen need to get their new season off to a flying start.

Having become used to seeing their team in Europe for the last eight years the group stages of the League Cup may seem a step down for Dons fans.

But with a host of new players on board and the promise of more to come, the more competitive games Jim Goodwin and his squad can get the better as far as I’m concerned.

I look at clubs who take part in the group stages every year and believe they should feel lucky to have them.

Pre-season games are fine but there is nothing which gets players up to speed more than a competitive game of football.

With four good matches against different levels of opposition within a fortnight it can only be a good thing for managers, especially after a busy summer.

Caley Thistle, for example, will learn much more from their trip to Kelty Hearts this weekend than they did from putting 10 past Clach last week in a kickabout.

Dons face a tough start at Peterhead

New Signings arrive Kelle Roos and Anthony Stewart at the Dons’ Spanish base. Photo: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media

Aberdeen have a tough start against Peterhead on Sunday.

I know Blue Toon boss Jim McInally is playing up the underdog card by mentioning he is short of players ahead of the big game.

But make no mistake, by the time the game kicks off on Sunday his players and fans will all be fancying their chances of the big team in the north-east a bloody nose in front of the television cameras.

This is an Aberdeen team which people will be looking at closely after the disappointment of last season.

Fans have only seen a glimpse of a couple of the new faces in the 2-1 win at Buckie a week ago and I’m sure a healthy support will be heading to Brechin tomorrow for the Dons final friendly.

The race is now on to have Ylber Ramadani and Bojan Miovski in place for the game. It is clear Goodwin sees both as being integral figures this season.

It must be really frustrating that Ramadani never made it to Spain last week for the training camp while Miovski, who was there, has to wait for his visa to come through before he can join up with the team in Scotland.

The wait to see them in action only adds to the sense of anticipation for the Red Army.

Mackay has become a huge asset to Ross County

Malky Mackay.

The same sense of excitement surrounds Ross County.

Malky Mackay has seven new faces on board so far and every one of the new arrivals is a fresh face in terms of Scottish football.

Mackay arrived at the club last year with a lot to prove but he has shown himself to be a terrific asset for the club in terms of his coaching and his little black book of contacts.

The club is quickly garnering a reputation as being a place teams in England are happy to send their young talent too as they know they are being developed at first-team level by the County boss.

After a tough start last year Mackay ended the season with his side firing on all cylinders.

The defence, which came on leaps and bounds as last season progressed, remains largely intact but the midfield and attacking options have been revamped considerably.

It will be fascinating seeing how these guys blend together.

My brother Dave was the reason I became a footballer

It has been a difficult weekend after losing both my brother Dave and former Scotland team-mate Andy Goram.

I was still coming to terms with the news of Andy’s death on Saturday when I received the news Dave had passed away on Sunday.

Andy was a fantastic goalkeeper and great company off the pitch. I was proud to play alongside him and spend some terrific nights in his company. He really was a larger than life character.

But my brother Dave was the reason I wanted to be a professional footballer.

Dave had started his career at Clach before earning a move to Middlesbrough in 1978. I remember after he had signed for Boro and he came back to the Highlands with his new strip in his suitcase.

I’d never felt anything like it. The number 10 on the back of what felt like fine silk.

All I could think was ‘one day I’d love to wear one of those’ and I was lucky enough to do it.

Dave enjoyed a fine career in England. He scored twice on his debut at 19 for Boro in a 2-0 win against Chelsea and also played for Grimsby Town and Gillingham.

He also enjoyed spells at Bournemouth, Scunthorpe United and Darlington in what was a well-travelled career, making more than 200 appearances in the old Football League.

It’s hard to believe he is gone at 63 and that Andy is no longer with us.

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