Duffy: Preparations step up with Stenny friendly

Manager Jim Duffy is looking forward to his side stepping up their pre-season preparations with a friendly away to Stenhousemuir on Saturday.

The Cappielow club travel through to Ochilview this weekend to face the Warriors in their first open-door match of the summer.

Despite playing Partick Thistle and Airdrie in recent bounce games, in which they recorded victories, the Ton boss expects the intensity to be turned up a notch by playing the Warriors in front of a crowd.

He told gmfc.net: “The players have been enthusiastic and working hard since they came back in and they’re in decent shape.

“The new players have settled in really well. Gary Harkins, Robert McHugh, and Robert Thomson have settled in very well and that’s always very important.

“We’ve had a couple of bounce games to give the guys game time. We also included the young boys – Ruaridh Langan, Ben Armour, and Darren Hynes – to give them a chance to impress and give me food for thought.

“We’re looking forward to this match at Stenhousemuir with it being our first open-doors game. You have that different attitude towards these sorts of games.

“The bounce games are played with less tempo, less intensity, and both teams move things around and make a lot of substitutions. You’re basically just getting the guys into the swing out of it again.

“But once you play open-door games then there’s a little bit more attention to the matches. There is a little bit more of a focus on the game and what you’re trying to do.

“With the opposition, there’s a bit more tempo to the game. That’s really what you want, though, because you need to get up to speed before the Betfred Cup kicks off in a couple of weeks.

“We’ve given the majority of the players 60 minutes or 70 minutes in the bounce games, but on Saturday there will be more of them getting 90 minutes for the first time.

“We just step it up a little bit at a time, get the game mentality, get the fitness levels, get the sharpness levels and with the new players in, it’s also about gelling and getting to know each other a bit.”

Pre-season training … Ross Forbes (8) and Jai Quitongo (9) will be rested against Stenny        © Gary Bradley

Five players who are expected to miss out against Brown Ferguson’s side are Lee Kilday, Darren Barr, Thomas O’Ware, Jai Quitongo and Ross Forbes.

Duffy explained: “We’ve had one or two players picking up niggles and bumps and bruises. For instance, Darren Barr rolled his ankle in the closer-doors game against Thistle.

“It was a bit swollen and he’s not been able to do too much. Obviously, he’s a coach so he’s doing that, but in terms of playing it’s knocked him back a little bit.

“Lee Kilday is recovering from his ankle operation and he’s still a few weeks away yet. Thomas O’Ware had a similar operation, not as detailed as Lee’s – a clean-up job really – and he’s still feeling a bit of the effects of it.

“He’s had to temper the training a little bit, and we’re being careful with him just to make sure that everything is okay. Both of those players are actually going for a follow up consultancy through at Edinburgh today.

“Jai Quitongo is another one. He’s been training really well and the first eight or nine days he was really flying, but like with a lot of times when you have a long-term injury, he just got a little bit of swelling behind his knee.

“I think the intensity of the work just flared it up a little bit, so we decided to ease him off as well for a couple of days. Generally speaking, he’s in very good condition and that’s a terrific boost for us.

“We’ll still wrap him in cotton wool a little bit even though he’s itching to get fully involved. We just have to be a little bit cautious with that.

“Ross Forbes tweaked his knee. He can’t remember doing it; it was during a light passing drill and he just felt a wee twinge on the outside of his knee, so he’s another one who’s had to ease off for a couple of days.

“None of them will be involved at Stenhousemuir on Saturday, but I’m hopeful that at least two of them – Thomas and possibly Jai – will be available for the Turriff game the following week. Ross could be okay as well.”


Images: Gary Bradley