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Elgin City: Ross Draper focused on game-time after extending loan spell from Cove Rangers

Elgin City loanee Ross Draper challenges Albion Rovers' Max Wright. Photo by Bob Crombie
Ross Draper, left, in action for Elgin City.

Elgin City loanee Ross Draper insists he is not thinking about anything other than getting much-needed time after extending his stay from Cove Rangers.

Last week Draper prolonged his loan at Elgin until the end of the season, as he seeks to get as many minutes under his belt as possible after a prolonged fitness battle.

Draper suffered bone bruising in his knee earlier in the season, which kept him off the park for the best part of two months. He picked up an injury after playing on the artificial surface at Forfar and also had a period in isolation after contracting Covid.

The 32-year-old has started the last five games and Elgin are undefeated, as they try to steer clear of the bottom of League Two and aim for the play-offs.

The focus is on the here and now for Draper, rather than what may happen at the end of the season once his loan runs out again.

He said: “I’ve played the last five and I just need to play games and manage it. With the boys at Cove flying, I’m not going to be able to train and not play.

Ross Draper, pictured in action for Cove Rangers, will remain with Elgin City for the rest of the season
Ross Draper, pictured in action for Cove Rangers, will remain with Elgin City for the rest of the season

“The boys at Cove have been brilliant. It was important for me to just play games and I’ve got more chance of doing that at Elgin.

“The manager has been brilliant. He said to do what I need to do to get fit and manage myself, then they’ll get the best out of me on the pitch.

“Why stop and interrupt that? Just let it carry on and see what happens at the end of the season.

“I signed a longer deal with Cove and it’s easier to do that, to focus on the here and now, knowing there’s no scrapping around panicking (at the end of the season) thinking I’m not going to get a club.

“Going on loan is a bit easier to look after yourself, play games and just figure the short-term out, rather than the long-term.”

Managing his fitness has been key and Draper is also combining two jobs with playing for Elgin.

He does stress, however, that retirement is far from his thoughts.

Draped added: “It’s little steps to get back playing. I don’t want to call it a day at all, I’m nowhere near prepared to do that.

“I just want to manage it and play for as many seasons as I can, while enjoying it as much as I can.”

Draper has spent the bulk of his career as a central midfielder but was first tried at centre-half by his former Caley Thistle boss John Hughes during the 2014-15 season.

He has dipped into that role at subsequent clubs Ross County and Cove and sees his future at the position, after starting all his games for Elgin in defence.

He added: “I don’t see myself going back into midfield at all. You do less running at centre-half, you can see the play a bit more and it’s not as robust getting about.

Cove Rangers midfielder Ross Draper.
Ross Draper

“It maybe gives that extra couple of yards, extra couple of seconds reading time to see where the ball is going. I’m enjoying it and I wish I had played a bit more at centre-half when I was younger.

“It gives me the chance to manage my injury playing there. I said to the gaffer at Elgin when I went there that I see myself more as a centre-half these days. I had a couple of training sessions there and he agreed with me.”

The former Inverness and County man feels Elgin, who are next in action on Tuesday against Kelty Hearts, have what it takes to mount a play-off challenge.

He said: “We’ve tightened up defensively recently and started scoring a few more goals. It’s getting the balance right.

“Hopefully with tightening things up and being more ruthless in front of goal, we can start moving towards the play-offs and stop looking over our shoulder.

“With all due respect, I don’t see us flirting with relegation. I don’t think we’ve got the squad for that. We want to kick on and see where we are later in the season.”

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