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Peterhead boss Jim McInally hails Highland League proving ground after captures of Jack Brown and Owen Cairns

Peterhead boss Jim McInally.
Peterhead boss Jim McInally

Peterhead boss Jim McInally reckons the Highland League is a good proving ground for players after making two acquisitions from the league.

Owen Cairns and Jack Brown have joined from Fraserburgh and Rothes respectively, after impressing during their stint in the Highland League.

Cairns has signed on an initial loan deal until the end of the season and stated his desire to test himself at a higher level.

Former Caley Thistle youngster Brown bagged 13 goals for Rothes this season and talked up the league as an important part of earning a move back to the SPFL.

For the Peterhead manager, the standard of the players available has never been in doubt. But he concedes to get the best players from Highland League clubs, you will have to pay decent money.

Jack Brown joined Peterhead this week

McInally said: “We’ve got to rely on the clubs to a certain extent. Rothes were a dream to deal with because they said to Jack they wouldn’t stand in his way. They were true to their word.

“You need to rely on the other club showing a bit loyalty to their player and I think Rothes realised what Jack had done for them.

“Jack is still a young player with a lot of development in him. But he has a brilliant attitude and works his socks off. He was a no-brainer.

“The ambition thing is something we’re trying to get in a lot of our younger players. If they do well and we can move them on, that’s what we’re here for. Jack has certainly got that ambition and hopefully we can help him.

“The Highland League is a good market but it can be a costly market. If you want to look at some of the really good players that are playing in the Highland League, you will need to pay good money for them.

“There’s definitely a lot of good players in the Highland League. You need to keep watching, especially the younger ones.

Fraserburgh defender Owen Cairns, centre, who has signed for Peterhead
Fraserburgh defender Owen Cairns, centre, joined Peterhead on loan

“It’s testing yourself against men. Jack has exposed himself to the rigours of Highland League football and may find he needs to think a wee bit quicker, coming in to our league.

“But as far as toughening yourself up, he might find that a wee bit easier. You’ll get a lot of players who maybe wouldn’t go to the Highland League as they think it’s last chance saloon a wee bit.

“But they need to get themselves out and playing and the Highland League is a good place to do it.”

McInally also lifted the lid on the transfer situation involving captain Scott Brown during the January window.

Championship side Ayr United wanted to bring in Brown but the former St Johnstone midfielder, who has always been open to a return to full-time football, did not want to go.

Brown came close to joining Falkirk in 2020 and McInally has hailed the 27-year-old’s dedication to Peterhead over five years.

Peterhead captain Scott Brown.
Peterhead captain Scott Brown

He added: “It was done at the time. Scott made it abundantly clear he wasn’t going to go and I just told Ayr United that.

“When this call came in, it was more him saying to me he didn’t want to go, rather than us not letting him.

“Scott has been a brilliant player for Peterhead.”

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