Preston Athletic go into tomorrow’s re-arranged South Challenge Cup second round fixture against Ormiston still searching for a new manager, meaning most of their guidance will be coming from their experienced players.
Captain Chris Flockhart, along with defender Ryan McSherry and Under-20s manager George Thomson, have been preparing the team and taking training since Colin Jack’s resignation last week, and the goalkeeper admits it’s been an unusual experience. “It’s been a new one” he said. “Ryan McSherry’s been taking training as I don’t have much experience of taking a team in terms of outfield coaching, so I’m just acting as a bit of a sounding board in terms of making any calls that need to be made just now. With the game being off last Saturday, it gave us a bit more time to get some training done this week.
“I think I’m probably the oldest player left. With a couple of players leaving and having a young team, with me having a bit of experience I’m happy to give a bit of advice. I probably wouldn’t want to take the team training myself because I’m not really experienced in that. We’re just trying to hold the fort just now before someone comes in, hopefully in the next two or three weeks. There’s been a bit of disruption to training recently with injuries and illness, so we’re just trying to make sure that everyone that’s fit is training.
“We’re working together with the Under-20s as well to integrate them into the squad a bit more and there’s potential for some of them to be involved. We’re trying to get a it of consistency back after a bit of disruption, but it is what it is. We’re looking forward to games picking up again.”
Both should start tomorrow, with support from the dug out coming from Thomson. “Ryan’s struggling a bit with an injury but if he’s fit, he’ll play” explained the keeper. “I’ll hopefully be playing if selected! We’ve got George Thomson, who’s a colleague at my work as well, so he’s happy to help out on the sidelines. He’s obviously got quite a bit of commitment with the Under-20s so it’ll be hard for him going in to take the manager’s position as well. I wouldn’t even call us managers – we’re in place until someone else comes in. It’s a funny situation, but it’s something we’re just trying to manage.”
Whoever does come in will certainly have plenty of potential to work with, the Panners’ young squad having already surpassed last season’s points total. “There’s definitely a lot of ability in the squad,” Flockhart said. “There’s a lot of good players, but we’ve had a bit of an up-and-down season. A lot of that’s due to having a young squad – we can struggle a wee bit for consistency, but the performances over the last four or five games has been pretty good. We had a bad one [8-2 defeat] against Edinburgh City, but for a large part of that game we did well. There’s definitely a lot of good prospects for someone to come in and work with. Hopefully we can get a settled squad once someone comes in so we know who we’re working with. There’s still a few players to come back and then we can regroup for the second half of the season.”
Should the Pennypit pitch survive, tomorrow’s game is an opportunity for Preston. “We’re at home and a league above so we’re potentially favourites,” said Flockhart. “With it being a local derby, it’s going to be a hard game for both teams.”