Robert Marshall is expected to make his Cities and Counties seasonal debut for Edinburgh & Leith in today’s must-win visit to joint section leaders East Lothian at Port Seton and the presence of their iconic figure is cause for optimism in a camp depressed by just one win in three.
The 53-year-old six times winner of the E&L Champion of Champions Tait Trophy is down to skip but wont engage in a head to head with his young brother Alex as the multiple World Singles champion and Commonwealth gold medallist is an enforced absentee from the East Lothian line up.
The stakes are high for both teams as a third defeat would seriously confine E&L to the list of also rans. However, if they can pull off a shock win against the hot favourites, then a lifeline to a qualifying finish in the top two could come into reach.
A win for East Lothian would make it four out of four for the county who are neck and neck with a Midlothian team also engaged in a tough encounter today with the visit of West Lothian to Loanhead MW.
E&L are boosted by the return of last weekend’s missing stars in the shape of Steven Pilley, John Priestly and Danny Gormley who, along with Robert Marshall, replace Alan Brown, Neil Watson, Tam Ebbs and Gordon Wilson Jnr.
East Lothian rarely under perform and are always great value for money but team manager Stewart Johnston seldom enjoys the luxury of a settled line-up and has four other enforced absentees today in Scott Kennedy, Chris Johnston, Steven Mackie and Joe Mower.
Glenn Blair of Haddington makes a welcome return while Johnston gives seasonal debuts to Davie Whitson (Tranent), Craig McLeod (Winton), David Sked (Gifford), and one-time captain Steven Morgan of the host club.
2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Neil Speirs is in Australia not Loanhead MW and is replaced in the West Lothian line-up by the return of 2016 West Lothian Master, Greg Logan.
The absence of Scotland stars Colin Walker and Ronnie Duncan is major challenge for a Midlothian team that also bring in Stuart Roseburgh and Scott Runciman for Dave McGlynn and Calum Redpath.