Inverurie Locos boss Andy Low feels his players are as ready as they can be for a competitive return.
Locos take on Turriff United in the Aberdeenshire Cup tonight, in what is their first meaningful game since the Highland League shut down in March.
Low’s side have played friendlies against Keith and Hall Russell United, winning 5-1 and 5-0 respectively, but he hopes to see a different edge to his players with competitive football resuming at Harlaw Park.
He said: “We have tried to make games as competitive as we can. The competitive stuff brings an extra 10 per cent out of players’ games.
“Even though there’s no crowd there’ll still be an extra edge to the game. It’s been bottled up for nine months effectively, so the guys are champing at the bit to get going.
“It’s not been ideal for any team and I’m sure Turriff are saying the same thing. We just need to make the best of a bad situation.
“The boys have looked after themselves and when we’ve been together, the reception we have received has been very good.”
Locos will be without the suspended Nathan Meres but Low otherwise has a full squad to choose from.
He added: “I’m hoping the guys take the reins off a little bit, as we certainly give them the platform to go and play. We just need to manage the squad as much as possible as players have not played as much football as they normally would.”
Turriff United boss Kris Hunter is eager to get back to football after a prolonged period where the Highland League season was in doubt.
He said: “The players are just itching to get back. They’re doing it all for nothing just now, until the club can get some revenue in, and it just shows the kind of bunch we have got.
“It’s been a big miss for seven or eight months – it’s a big part of everyone’s lives. We’re a really young team and football is really important to them. They just want to get back on the park.
“You can train and train but it’s not the same. We’ve now got competitive games that will change their attitudes.”
James Chalmers is the only doubt for the visitors, as he is struggling with a knock.
Tonight could also see the Turriff debuts of Connor Power, Luke Turner and Tyler Mykyta, who have joined on loan from Aberdeen.
Hunter added: “We’ve taken one or two guys in but it’s the three players from Aberdeen that have made a massive difference. They’ve improved the squad, with the way they go about their business.”