Paul Hartley is pleased Cove Rangers start the new League One season at home as he gears up for an even more competitive division.
League One was the tightest league in Scotland last season, with the destination of the title only being decided in the final few matchdays.
Cove, who start at home to Falkirk before facing newly-promoted Queen’s Park away, finished third last year but their manager believes the challenge at the top will be even greater this time around.
Hartley said: “Every game is going to be hard. It’s a tough league but I’m happy we’re home for the first game.
“You look at the fixtures and there’s no easy games. I think this league will be tougher this year than last year. Every team is trying to strengthen.
— Cove Rangers FC (@CoveRangersFC) June 15, 2021
“I think both of them (will be up there). Queen’s Park have got a strong squad and are probably looking to add, Falkirk have added a few so far.
“You’re having to test yourself every game. We’re at home to start with and hopefully we can get some fans back.”
The derby games against Peterhead take place on September 18 and January 2 at Balmoor, with Cove at home against the Blue Toon on November 13 and March 5.
There is hope spectators will be back in grounds by those games but Hartley remains sceptical.
He said: “That would be nice but we’re just not sure where we’re going to be over the next few months. I think we’re still a wee bit in the dark about it all.
“Nobody knows about corporate, how many fans we can get in; I feel for the clubs because it’s a difficult time just now.”
He added: “We’re still looking at three or four, just to get our numbers up. That could be a loan or two. We’re definitely trying to strengthen but it’s just getting the right ones in.
“It’s been a challenge the last few weeks, to see who we can and can’t get.”