Logan's run continues with fresh loan deal
THE relationship between Forres Mechanics and Inverness Caley Thistle is one that Mosset Park boss Charlie Rowley believes has worked well for both parties over the years.
The latest ICT youngster to gain valuable first-team experience with the Highland League side, Logan Johnstone, has signed an extended loan deal until the end of the season.
"We have been really pleased with his performances and he can only get better given a bit more experience," said Rowley.
The centre-half has formed a good partnership with Graham Fraser, one which has helped the Mechanics into sixth place in the table.
"We have got some really good players on loan from Caley and it is an opportunity we cannot turn down."
Rowley said Johnstone has good quality and, just as importantly, has integrated well into the squad.
With Craig McGovern still sidelined by a worrying knee injury, Rowley admits the squad was short in defensive cover, although Stuart Soane can deputise at the back, but that would take away a goal threat.
The best example of Forres' link with the Championship club was Graeme Shinnie, who arrived at Mosset park as a raw teenager in 2009-10.
"Graeme's career was at a stage where he needed to push on. I felt he could have played at a higher level on loan than the Highland League but we were delighted to get him.
"He was one of the best players in the Highland League during his six months with us and went on to establish himself in the Caley first team.
"I am delighted we were able to play a small part in his development."
Shinnie has gone on to be captain of Aberdeen and is part of the Scotland squad. He is now being linked with a move to England although the Dons haven't ruled out keeping him at Pittodrie.
Rowley said Shinnie's development should act as an incentive for any young player, whether at Inverness Caley Thistle or elsewhere, if the chance of a loan move to the Highland League comes along, adding: "For a young player, 17 or 18, playing youth football, it is 100 per cent a step up.
"Graeme Shinnie had a great attitude and it is no surprise he has achieved what he has."
Rowley hopes the relationship with John Robertson and Caley Thistle can continue to flourish. Meanwhile, Rowley's message to his players this week is the time has come to step up against the top five teams in the league.
"We haven't got a good record against the top teams and have only beaten one this season, and that was at Formartine.
"We need to be mentally strong if we have aspirations of getting into the top four."
Rowley hopes that starts at Bellslea this Saturday against Fraserburgh.
With last weekend's game against Clach frozen out, Forres will still have Ross MacPherson suspended for this weekend's match.
Defender Callum Howard's ankle ligament injury is improving after rolling it in training and he has a chance of being included in the squad this Saturday.
"A point wouldn't be a bad result at Bellslea but if we have aspirations of the top four these are the kind of games we need to win."
Mechanics trail fifth-placed Inverurie by five points but with two games in hand and are nine points adrift of Saturday's hosts, but again with a game in hand.