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Allan Hale confident better squad depth is key to Elgin City promotion charge in 2024/25

The League Two club want more options to combat injuries and suspensions at important moments next season.

Elgin City manager Allan Hale.
Elgin City manager Allan Hale. Image: Robert Crombie

Allan Hale thinks adding depth to the Elgin City player pool could transform his side from relegation contenders to promotion chasers in the new season.

The Borough Briggs boss is preparing for his and assistant Stefan Laird’s first full season in charge, having come in last December to help keep the club in League Two with a seventh-placed finish.

So far this summer, the ex-Huntly management duo have signed Buckie Thistle’s 26-goal defender from last season Jack Murray, Fraserburgh forward Ryan Sargent, and ex-Edinburgh City attacker Olly McDonald.

And there are more players to come before the competitive campaign gets under way in mid-July.

Hale felt Elgin would have earned more  than their 40 league points last term had they had greater options to pick from when the going got tough in the closing weeks of the season.

He said: “Since we came in last December, many games were really tight.

“Especially towards the end of the season, we picked up a lot of draws – five draws in our last seven games.

“We really struggled with a lack of depth to our squad in the latter part of the season due to injuries and suspensions.

“In order for us to improve year-on-year, you have to build and have a squad which has relative depth to it.

“You must try and have two players for each position, so you don’t feel the effects in the manner that we did towards the run-in last season, where we were having to play the same players – some of whom were injured because we didn’t have anyone else.

“Over the past few seasons, Elgin have had a relatively good starting XI, but the depth beyond that hasn’t been there.

“That has resulted in there being a fight (at the lower end of the league) and that’s what we’re trying to get away from.

“We’re looking to get away from that and try to compete at the right end of the league – not constantly competing at the bottom end.”

Ryan Sargent, right, in action for Fraserburgh, has joined Elgin this summer. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson/

‘Fantastic’ transfer kitty scheme will help me – Hale

Helping the manager in his bid to attract players to Moray is a recently-launched “Allan’s Army Player Fund” set up by fans to give Hale extra leverage in his bid to recruit, for which he is grateful.

He said: “The fund really can make the difference between getting a player in and not getting one over the line.

“We have spoken to numerous targets this year that we’ve unfortunately missed out on due to finances. That can be really frustrating.

“It has been a common theme over the years for Elgin. It’s not just a geographical thing – you can attract players if the financial state and the budget is right.

“It is a fantastic initiative set up by very loyal supporters. Whatever funds come from it, no matter how little or big, it will go a long way to hopefully being able to conclude one or two signings before the kick-off in a few weeks’ time.”

Highland League sides are Elgin friendly opposition

Elgin kick off their pre-season run of games on Tuesday night when they take on Keith at the Gleaner Arena, then host Inverurie Locos at the same venue on Friday.

Two more Highland League teams are lined up after that, with Forres Mechanics hosting Elgin next Tuesday, before City travel to SHFL champions Buckie on Saturday, July 6.

Hale is satisfied with the line-up of opponents, adding: “We’ve got a good range of games set up. They will be really competitive, which is what you want.

“We see it as a top-up exercise, but also we want the players to implement what we’ve been working on in training.

Elgin City’s Gleaner Arena, next to Borough Briggs, will see Keith visit on Tuesday night. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

“It will also allow us to experiment with a couple of things prior to the Premier Sports Cup.

“It’s about getting as many minutes as we can into the players between now until the league kicks off.”

Elgin’s Premier Sports Cup group campaign gets started with a mouthwatering home tie on July 13 against Premiership Hibs, who recently appointed club legend David Gray as their manager.

Also in Group C are Championship side Queen’s Park, League One opponents Kelty Hearts and Peterhead, of League Two.