Three long-serving first team regulars departed Fraserburgh at the end of last season but manager Mark Cowie is ready to give the youth a chance.
Graham Johnston, Michael Rae and Marc Dickson all left Bellslea but Cowie believes replacements can be found in the club’s conveyor belt of young local talent.
He said: “They were three big Highland League players, let alone Fraserburgh players.
“Although I am disappointed to lose them, it will give other young players the opportunity carve their own careers.
“Somebody will come in and whether they will be of the same standard is yet to be seen.
“We have honoured Graham, Mikey and Marc for their service but now is time to move on, look to the future and concentrate on the guys we still have.
“As a club we take pride in having this conveyor belt of talent.
“I came through the ranks myself and was given my opportunity by Charlie Duncan, before Kris Hunter later took me back as an experienced Highland League player.
“We put a lot of work into making sure the pathway to the first team is visible.
“It doesn’t happen by chance, a lot of people work exceptionally hard to find these potential Highland League players of the future.”
Fraserburgh finished third behind champions Cove Rangers and Brora Rangers and Cowie hopes his side can be up near the top of the table again this term.
Cowie added: “We improved by finishing in third last term when we were fourth the previous season.
“Maybe our performances in the cup competitions weren’t the greatest but we took a lot of positives, considering we had players unavailable through injury.”
- Ground: Bellslea
- Colours: Black and white stripes
- Honours: Highland League champions 1932-33, 1937-38, 2001-02; Scottish Qualifying Cup 1957-58, 1995-96, 2006-07; Highland League Cup 1958-59, 2005-06; Aberdeenshire Cup 1910-11, 1937-38, 1955-56, 1943-64, 1972-73, 1975-76, 1996-97, 2012-13, 2014-15, 2015-16; Aberdeenshire Shield 1991-92, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1996-97, 1999-00, 2011-12, 2015-16
- Manager: Mark Cowie
- Season 18-19: Finished 3rd
Fraserburgh’s Willie West believes the Highland League will be much more competitive following Cove Rangers’ promotion to League 2.
West said: “It’s going to be an interesting season as Cove have been the dominant force in Highland League football.
“I think quite a few teams out there will be fancying their chances of taking the title now.
“It feels like the league will be a bit more competitive.
“Brora Rangers will probably be seen as the favourites after finishing the second half of last season strongly. They they will be the team to beat.
“But the likes of Inverurie Locos, Formartine United and ourselves, even Buckie Thistle if they can get a few players back from long-term injury, could also be in the mix.”
The 31-year-old has become a key player at Bellslea, particularly due to his versatility.
He added: “I do find it pretty difficult to one week be playing up front and the next I could find myself at centre half.
“I can also play in the middle of the park but wherever Mark Cowie our manager wants to put me for the benefit of the team is OK with me.
“I had four months off last season with a medial-ligament injury to my knee so I’m itching to get back.”