Fraserburgh assistant manager James Duthie thinks the squad will need to step up to fill the void left by now-retired skipper Ryan Christie.
Known as “Boomer”, Christie, 36, made his final outing for the Broch in the midweek Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup win over Aberdeen University.
Highland League title hopefuls Fraserburgh are heading into a tough spell which sees them meet fellow powerhouses Brechin City, Buckie Thistle and Inverurie Locos in the space of eight days.
Duthie believes their other leaders will have to take charge in order to maintain a flawless start which has seen them take 12 points from 12, saying “It’ll be difficult to be the new Ryan Christie, given what he’s brought to the club in the last 20 years.
“They’ve got big shoes to fill, but Boom is still going to be around the place with the under-21s to give advice to any of the younger players who need to step up a bit. We’ve got plenty of characters in the team and they’ll all maybe need to step up.
“We’ll miss him Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, but he’s going to try to get down as much as he can to watch the games.”
Duthie joked the “outstanding” Christie might be reconsidering his decision after his performance in the 6-0 victory over Aberdeen Uni, but reckons the skipper’s decision is final.
In terms of Saturday’s opponents Brechin, who were relegated from the SPFL last term and dropped their first Highland League points last weekend, Duthie added: “There’ll probably be nothing between the teams. They’re a really good side and signed loads of good players – it’ll be a tough game against a side that’s looking to bounce straight back up.
“They’ve got a really good young manager (Andy Kirk), with experience in the background, like Craig Levein. They’ll be well coached, hard-working, fit and professional, so we’ll need to be at our best or we’ll come unstuck.”
“The Bellslea isn’t the easiest place for teams to come – but we’ll need to make it as difficult as possible for them.”
Jags boss Graeme Stewart knows Rothes are a threat
Buckie Thistle boss Graeme Stewart thinks their trip to Rothes on Saturday is as big a threat as any they’ll face as they attempt to preserve what has been a perfect Highland League start.
The sides last met in one of the few matches to take place during the doomed 2020/21 league campaign, with Buckie triumphing 5-1 at Mackessack Park in December.
However, Rothes had beaten the Jags in the delayed Highland League Cup final the previous month.
Stewart said: “The next four games are as hard as you’re going to get – Rothes away, Fraserburgh at home in midweek, Formartine away and then Inverness away in the Challenge Cup.
“Rothes look like they have improved from last year. They beat us in the Highland League Cup final in October, which was devastating for us, and since then they’ve signed four or five top-quality players.
“It’s going to be as hard a game as we’ll have all season.
“If we can get through the three (Highland League) games unscathed or relatively unscathed, we’re looking good and maybe a team worth challenging this year.”
Rothes gaffer Ross Jack watched his side concede in the dying embers to draw 2-2 with Brechin City last weekend.
Ahead of hosting Buckie, Jack said: “It’s two draws now, at Nairn and at Brechin, where we’ve thrown points away.
“Buckie have made a fantastic start, blowing teams away and not conceding any goals, they’re doing extremely well.
“We want to test ourselves against teams like Buckie and see how we get on. We’re well up for the challenge, with good motivation from Wednesday (North Cup win over Elgin), so we’re ready for the game.
“We played well against them recently before, although they beat us in the league, we beat them in the cup final with 10 men, so we need to make sure that we produce the same character and performance.
“Things didn’t go our way in the league game and the players are all well aware what went wrong, so we need to make sure we start the game better and finish it a hell of a lot better.”
Adam Porritt wanted to make Nairn comeback after witnessing inconsistent start
Former Nairn skipper Adam Porritt could return to Wee County action against Formartine United this weekend, having rejoined the club.
Ronnie Sharp’s team travel to North Lodge Park, having taken four points from their first four league matches.
Defender Porritt – who stepped back in April for family reasons – said: “It will take me a wee while to get back into the swing of things. After speaking with the manager, he totally respects that and understands I am going to need time.
“Although I may have played well when I played for Nairn last time, I don’t merit just walking straight back into the starting line-up.
“These boys have been training a lot longer than I have, so I need to go in and prove myself.”
The 27-year-old explained he decided to return to help Nairn after witnessing their inconsistent start to the season from sidelines.
Porritt said: “I felt like I could contribute something to the team to help them win or at least improve their performance.
“It was the cup game at Lossiemouth I saw (4-2 North Cup defeat). It was bitterly disappointing, particularly after the opening game against Keith – a 2-0 win away there is a good result for any team really. The Lossiemouth game was a sore one to swallow.
“The boys did all right on Saturday against Fraserburgh (3-2 league loss). I know it’s a good Fraserburgh team, but when they come up to Station Park, we want to be taking something out of the game. Last Saturday they should have.”