Promoted Blue Toon can cope with full-time teams

Peterhead manager Jim McInally lifts the Ladbrokes League 2 trophy
Peterhead manager Jim McInally lifts the Ladbrokes League 2 trophy

Peterhead can be among the leading contenders in League 1 this season, according to manager Jim McInally.

The Blue Toon are returning to the third tier for the first time since the 2016-17 campaign and the Balmoor boss hopes they can continue to ride the momentum that came from promotion.

Falkirk and Raith Rovers, as the two full-time teams in the division, are widely-tipped to be among the favourites to go up.

Meantime, Airdrieonians are trialling a hybrid system where some of their players will operate on a full-time basis.

They made the play-offs in the 2015-16 season in a bid to secure their first promotion to the Championship.

But they were beaten in the semi-finals by Ayr United, who eventually went on to take Livingston’s place in the second tier.

However, a squad that has remained reasonably settled from their title success gives McInally hope they can continue advancing through the leagues.

He said: “When you start something, you start it to try to win it.

“You aspire to be the best and if you do that and fall short, you should be in a position where you’re not getting relegated.

“Our aspiration is to be the best we can be. It’s something to look forward to and it’s a different type of pressure. We don’t want another season like the year we got relegated.

“We’re still in the hunt for another defender and we need to see what happens with Shane Sutherland.

“But we’re in a good place – we have the spine of a team again.”

Striker Sutherland is transfer-listed and looks set to leave, while Callum Home has been released and Paul Willis has joined Stirling Albion.

Jack Leitch put pen to paper on another season at Balmoor, after an impressive end to the 2018-19 campaign, while Scott Brown spurned the offer of full-time football with Dunfermline to extend his stay.

Young midfielder Liam MacDonald, who joined last year after his release by Caley Thistle, looks set for another season out on loan, with Huntly interested. He had a spell last season at Highland League side Fraserburgh.

McInally said: “Liam is ready for that challenge and should do himself justice.

Huntly have been in contact with me about him and he needs to go and play in the Highland League. It will make or break him.”