Elgin City skipper Darryl McHardy reckons the Black and Whites’ Betfred Cup campaign can help them prepare for their League 2 opener at home to Cowdenbeath.
City yesterday discovered their fixtures for the new league campaign, with the visit of Blue Brazil on August 3 followed by a trip to Annan Athletic and a home game against recently relegated Stenhousemuir.
Gavin Price’s men have been drawn in a Betfred Cup section alongside Arbroath, Alloa Athletic, Stirling Albion and Premiership side Hibernian, and defender McHardy hopes his side can use the competition to their advantage.
McHardy said: “It’s good to get competitive games so early – the first Betfred Cup game is away to Arbroath on July 13. We played them in two cups last year and in both games we played I thought we were just as good, if not better than them.
“I personally think the cup helps, compared to playing friendlies against your local Highland League teams it gets you more ready for your own league.
“It gets you going straight away because you are playing two or three games a week sometimes, so it gets you ready for the start of the season.”
McHardy is pleased to start the league campaign at Borough Briggs, adding: “We know what Cowdenbeath are like. We’ve played them a good few times, they got a result against us towards the end of last season so we will be looking for a bit of revenge for that.
“It’s always good to get a home game to start with to hopefully try to get the fans on our back after the first game, rather than making a long journey down to the likes of Annan.”
McHardy was named captain of his hometown club at the end of last season following the retirement of Jon-Paul McGovern.
After a concerning knee injury towards the tail end of the campaign proved to be not as bad as first feared, the 24-year-old is putting in the miles over his summer break to ensure he is ready for the new season.
He added: “As soon as the season stopped and I got the all-clear for my knee injury, I started getting back into the gym with a programme from the physio.
“I was doing two or three weeks of running in the morning before I went on holiday, and I have kept doing training sessions in Turkey to keep myself ticking over.
“I’m trying to keep myself fit ahead of our first pre-season game against Strathspey Thistle on Tuesday.
“Hopefully I will be ready to play 90 minutes in the first game. I’m looking forward to being captain and I’m aiming to help take the team into the play-offs and hopefully get promoted.”