Edinburgh City captain Dougie Gair believes he and his team-mates couldn’t have been handed a much sterner test in this season’s Lowland League Cup – starting with league leaders Spartans at Meadowbank tomorrow.
In addition to the Ainslie Park outfit, the men in black-and-white have been drawn in Section B along with Whitehill Welfare and Stirling University and it is intended, at this stage, that only the clubs finishing top will qualify for the semi-finals, with the best runner-up from sections A, B and C taking the remaining last-four spot.
With City sitting in the lower depths of the league table, Gair admits that, despite it being a sizeable task just to qualify from the group, the Lowland League Cup is perhaps the Capital club’s only realistic chance of silverware this season.
“We really couldn’t have been given a harder group,” the 28-year-old said. “Our main aim though is to get out of the group as the league is probably too far away for us now, so we’ll be looking to do what we’ve done the last couple of seasons and pick up a trophy.”
Spartans have prevailed 1-0 in both meetings between the sides this season and despite visiting boss Dougie Samuel indicating a rotation policy will apply over the festive period’s cup fixtures, this will provide little advantage to City as Gair underlined the strength in depth of their opponents.
He said: “There hasn’t been a lot in the games so far between the sides, especially the first game of the season at Meadowbank. It’s just a case of finding a wee stroke of luck, but also we need to take our chances and hope to get the right result tomorrow.
“It looks like Spartans have really kicked into gear – their results over the last few weeks have been pretty good. The benefit they’ve got is the bonus of having a big squad.
“Their bench against Selkirk last week had Robbie (Ross), Sean Muhsin, (Kevin) Motion, so they’ve got players who can come in who are pretty much first-team anyway.
“We unfortunately don’t have that and are running on the bare bones. I don’t think it will have any impact on the game because their players coming in will want to prove a point.”
City boss Gary Jardine has always expressed a desire to tamper with his starting XI for the up-and-coming cup matches – a decision Gair fully supports.
“Speaking from my own experience,” he said, “I came up from the 19s – although that was a long time ago! As a club, that has happened every year and our 19s this year are certainly a decent side.
We’ve brought Mark Osborne into the squad for tomorrow and for the foreseeable future, a young striker with bags of talent, so there is certainly no problem with those guys coming in.
“If you look at Mark McConnell who has come in, he didn’t really think he was going to get a game and now he’s on the team sheet every week.”
Gair is likely to return to the fold after missing the 5-1 defeat by Gretna 2008 through suspension, a red card shown for dissent the previous week in the 3-0 loss to Preston Athletic.
Gair added: “I have no complaints about being sent off against Preston. I think it was just a case of too many people were having a go at the ref and he made an example of me.
“It’s something I shouldn’t be doing, but it was just the heat of the moment that got to me.”