Grant Irvine will make his first senior appearance of the season for Kyles Athletic when they host champions Newtonmore on successive Saturdays, first in the Orion Premiership and next weekend in the Camanachd Cup.
The 25-year-old chartered surveyor, voted national under-21 player of the year in 2009, made only sporadic appearances last season after taking the previous year off to recover from reconstructive knee surgery. But he did start in last season’s Camanachd final which Newtonmore won and wants revenge against the Badenoch men.
Irvine, at home up front or in midfield, has been promoted to tomorrow’s senior squad after an impressive comeback in two reserve outings following another injury which kept him out this year so far.
Midfielder Colin MacDonald, whose appearances this season have been restricted for work reasons, has been added to the Kyles squad with manager Norman MacDonald having no injury worries.
The Tighnabruiach pitch, such a problem this season, was playable yesterday for the first of two crowd-pulling matches against their oldest rivals.
Newtonmore, whose only league defeat last season was a 5-4 loss at Kyles in their second last game, will be without Paul MacArthur and Andrew Mackintosh, while key defender Norman Campbell may figure but is less than 100% fit.
Lochaber goalkeeper Calum Macdonald has had a toenail removed and will remain on the sidelines for some time but the experienced Lachie Campbell returns from a knee injury for the bottom side’s visit to MacTavish Cup finalists Gleurquhart.
Manager Robert Johnstone said: “Calum’s deputy, 19-year-old Bryn Whitaker, has played well and the goals we’ve lost don’t reflect on his ability. I’m more concerned we’re creating chances but not taking them.”
Zander Ferguson is missing because of university exams while internationalist Neil MacDonald has not had a full game yet because of hamstring trouble.
If Lochaber, who have leaked 23 goals in six league games, lose at Drumnadrochit then they will have reached the halfway point of their Premiership programme as the only team without a victory.
Glen morale is high after their semi-final win against Newtonmore but Michael Brady is again suspended.
Third-placed Kingussie are at full strength for their visit to second-bottom Inveraray who are still without injured player-manager Garry MacPherson and Douglas Dando but hope to have Stuart Robertson available.
If Newtonmore were to slip, and with Lovat on cup duty, a win could take Kingussie to the top of the table. But co-manager Russell Jones points to how well Inveraray competed when Kings beat them 3-2 at the Dell a fortnight ago.