Peterhead manager Jim McInally reckons Cove Rangers have the quality to become a force in League 2.
Cove travel to Peterhead this afternoon as both sides start their Betfred Cup campaigns and McInally, who took in their 2-1 defeat to Forfar Athletic on Tuesday night, is hugely impressed by what they have to offer.
A number of familiar faces for McInally are in the Cove ranks, with Scott Ross, Ryan Strachan, Jordon Brown and Jamie Redman all playing for him during his near eight-year stint at Balmoor.
However, the addiction to winning, accrued during a dominant spell in the Highland League, is viewed as a far more lucrative asset according to McInally.
He said: “That winning mentality will definitely carry them. I’ve seen a few stories saying talk about just surviving (in League 2) but I think they’ll be around the play-offs at least.
“Scott Ross was one of our best players but it was just his disciplinary problems that superceded his football to a certain extent. We played a lot of big games and he played well in them. Nothing is a problem to him.
“Ryan is just a really good player. I liked him better in midfield as he’s a better footballer but he can play at the back comfortably. But the one I really like is Mitch Megginson; I watched him for the first time in the play-offs against Berwick Rangers. I’d heard a lot about him and thought he was a really good player, with great movement. He’s got a bit of class about him.
“It’s one I’m looking forward to and seeing how our boys play. We’ve had a few changes and there’s three or four boys playing catch up fitness. Jamie Stevenson, Gary Fraser, Mick Dunlop and Jason Brown are chasing their tails a wee bit so these four games will allow them to get up to speed.”
The Blue Toon boss, Scotland’s longest-serving manager, wants his side to make a better fist of the competition than a year ago. They exited the group stage bottom last year without winning a game, with their only points coming in a penalty shoot-out win over Brechin City after a goal-less draw.
He added: “Last season was disappointing as we never struck a blow, when previous years have been good to us. We’ve qualified once, which is a great achievement, and the season we beat Hearts we went out with nine points, which was pretty bizarre.
“You have got to use it as part of pre-season but you are wanting to do well in it. Hopefully we get a victory today, knowing if we could sneak another one anything could be possible.”
McInally will be without Aaron Norris, who is on holiday, and the suspended Gary Fraser. Willie Gibson, who only returned to pre-season training this week, is also unlikely to feature.