Gary Naysmith reveals his big Edinburgh City challenge ahead of league opener

Edinburgh City boss Gary Naysmith admits time will tell if he has got the right blend when putting together his new-look squad.

By Neil McGlade
Friday, 30th July 2021, 12:36 pm
Edinburgh City manager Gary Naysmith takes his team to Coatbridge on Saturday.
Edinburgh City manager Gary Naysmith takes his team to Coatbridge on Saturday.

Naysmith has made wholesale changes to the Citizens playing staff since the League One play-off final aggregate defeat to Dumbarton in May.

Some notable personnel including former captain Craig Thomson, striker Blair Henderson and influential midfielder Marc Laird have all moved onto pastures new, while Naysmith has recruited the likes of Callum Tapping, James Hilton and Lewis Toshney as he aims to go one better this season by winning promotion to Scottish football's third tier.

City failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the Premier Sports Cup, but Naysmith is content with the quality he has at his disposal, although he admits he would still like to add another striker.

Ahead of the League Two curtain-raiser at Albion Rovers tomorrow, Naysmith said: "I would have liked the results to have gone better in the Premier Sports Cup, but in all the matches I felt we acquitted ourselves well. It's a reminder that it is a new squad that I've put together and sometimes it can take some time to gel. So that is probably my biggest challenge this season is how quickly can I get the 12 or 13 new players to integrate with the six or seven that are still here from last season.

"Behind the scenes, Grant [Murray] also left right at the last minute, the physio and strength and conditioning coaches have both been replaced so there has been a lot of upheaval. Everyone is still getting to know each other but I feel we are beginning to come together as a squad.

"I am trying to put my own stamp on things. Most of the previous squad had been here for the past three or four years and although they had done well for the club, I just felt it was the right time to inject a freshness. However, only time will tell if I have got that right or not.

"I want to get promoted this season but I am prepared for a few ups and downs along the way. I have significantly reduced the average age of the squad so with young players they will be brilliant one week and an eight out of ten and then the following week they'll be a five."

City drew with Rovers 1-1 in the League Cup before losing on penalties almost a fortnight ago and Naysmith added: "I've been a manager now for probably 250-odd games and I can't ever remember going to Albion Rovers and having an easy game.

"We've already played them in the cup so we know what to expect and they have definitely improved. It is wrong and disrespectful for people to be writing them off. Cliftonhill is a tough place to go. But you always want to get off on the right foot.

"I think the league title race is going to be so tight this year but we need to try and get the club up. We've got to the play-offs the last couple of years but we need to improve on that. We want to win the league and if we can't do that then we need to try and make sure we go up through the play-offs."

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