Caley Thistle starlet Keith Bray is already making an impact with Elgin City, according to Black and Whites’ manager Allan Hale.
The 17-year-old was snapped up from the Championship club on a loan deal until the end of the season.
Under previous ICT boss Billy Dodds, the livewire got a run of nine appearances at the start of the campaign where he drew a largely favourable reaction from fans.
However, he has yet to play a minute under Duncan Ferguson, who replaced Dodds in late September.
Hale, aware of his potential, made a move and landed Bray on a short-term deal.
He looked good on his debut in the 1-0 home league loss against Dumbarton last weekend and in the vital 2-1 victory against Clyde on Tuesday, a result which hauled the club seven points clear of their opponents at the foot of League Two.
Bray is ‘not scared of physicality’
Hale is confident Bray will more than make life tough for rivals as they bid to move up the League Two table.
He said: “Some people might look at Keith only being 17, but I think you could see in his debut on Saturday against Dumbarton that he’s going to be an exciting player once he gets more familiar with the team and where we’re asking him to play.
“He is creative and can play in a variety of positions. I have been really impressed with Keith as a person and his attitude. He’s determined to come here and play his part in the second half of the season.
“He’s not a young boy who is scared of physicality. He can protect himself and is not worried about that side of the game, which is important.
“We saw a lot of Keith and I felt he was someone who could help us. Even in the short time with us, he has proven that once he is up to speed and has that match-sharpness then he can be an important player.”
Elgin strengthened for survival battle
Hale, who replaced Barry Smith as the boss at the start of December, has certainly been active in the January window.
The ex-Huntly manager raided his old Highland League club to bring in forward Michael Dangana and full-back Lyall Booth and added midfielder Mark Gallagher and striker Dayshonne Golding on loan from League One side Cove Rangers.
He also secured rising talent Ryan McLeman from Premiership Ross County after a successful loan spell in the first half of the season, while defender Connall Ewan extended his loan agreement from the Dingwall club to see out this term at Elgin.
On Tuesday, ex-Aberdeen and Fraserburgh midfielder Lewis Duncan – back from a spell with Iowa Lakes in the USA – was the next to join, signing a two-and-a-half year deal.
⚫️⚪️ NEXT MATCH ⚫️⚪️
A run of 3 home games in 7 days concludes on Saturday with a match v East Fife where we look to build on Tuesday nights win v Clyde
🆚 East Fife
🏟️ Borough Briggs
🏆 Cinch League Two
📅 Saturday 3rd February
🎟️ Entrance via Cash Gates or Fanbase App pic.twitter.com/hK4Rxgc8fO
— Elgin City F.C. (@ElginCityFC) February 1, 2024
City players can ‘create and convert’
The City boss is confident his reshaped squad will improve weekly as on-field relationships are forged.
He said: “We have young players who are proven in terms of getting goals or assists.
“We just need to have them to click and build that understanding as quickly as possible.
“The players we have brought in, as tends to be the case in January, tend to not have played a lot of football.
“There has to be an element of understanding from my perspective that these players will probably need a few games to get up to speed.
“Five of our new players, for example, played at the weekend (in the 1-0 defeat against Dumbarton), a few of them making their (starting) debuts (Keith Bray, Mark Gallagher and Lyall Booth), with two only having had one training session. That’s not easy.
“Once we get on the training pitch more and we work on what we want to do from an attacking point of view, we certainly have players who can create and convert, so hopefully we will see the signs of that in the weeks ahead.”
Elgin play their third home fixture inside seven days when mid-table East Fife visit Moray this Saturday.