Brora Rangers boss Steven Mackay admits he faces a challenging period preparing for the Betfred League Cup, given there is no Highland League starting date.
The Cattachs were drawn in Group B of the competition yesterday alongside former Highland League champions Cove Rangers, Premiership side Hibernian, Dundee and Forfar Athletic.
October 6 is the start date of the competition but as yet, the Highland League does not have a firm date for getting its season under way.
Brora won the league last season, but, due to the pyramid play-offs being scrapped, were denied the chance of promotion.
Mackay said: “They’re tentatively talking about October 17, so that’s given us something to focus on. It’s hard to plan – we’ve not started back in training and won’t have much time to prepare. Then you’re potentially going into a game against a top-class Premiership side.
“It’s going to be a massive challenge for us, to get the players prepared.
“Looking at it, it’s going to be an extension of pre-season for us. It’s a competitive cup competition and we’ll do our utmost to compete in all the games.
“But the way the football world is at the moment, it’s going to be tough for us to arrange pre-season games. We’ll get the boys back hopefully at the end of this month, train for four or five weeks then look forward to these cup games.”
The tie against Hibernian is one that stands out for Mackay, given the potential of a trip to Easter Road, while the game against Cove is also appealing.
He added: “It’s a great draw for us, in terms of the level of teams we’re competing against.
“When you look at the four teams in the seed one pot, Hibs is a stand-out. Personally I’ve never come up against Hibs in my career, so I’m looking forward to that one in particular.
“Cove have kicked on considerably since they’ve been in the Highland League and Paul Hartley has recruited really well. We played them last season in the League Cup up in Brora and they narrowly beat us 2-1. Games against Cove in recent years have always typically been close.
“It’s just been so long since having football in our lives, I’m looking forward to getting back and testing ourselves against Scottish League opposition.”
Elsewhere in the north section, Caley Thistle are drawn against Championship title favourites Hearts, which will pit John Robertson, Brad Mckay and Kevin McHattie against their old sides. Also in Group A are Raith Rovers, Cowdenbeath and East Fife.
Ross County will get the chance to contest a north derby of sorts when they take on Elgin City in Group D.
Teenage striker Joel Macbeath joined Elgin from County in the summer and, alongside another ex-Staggie in Russell Dingwall, will have a chance to come up against his former club. Also in their group are Stirling Albion, Arbroath and Montrose.