Forres Mechanics return to training ahead of new Highland League campaign
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THERE is a sense of excitement throughout the Forres Mechanics squad, according to manager Charlie Rowley, as the club prepares to get back into football after a year’s break from the Highland League.
Players returned to training on Saturday afternoon, with plenty of new faces involved – including assistant manager Nathan Sharp and Elgin City loanee Owen Loveland.
Boss Charlie Rowley was impressed with what he saw from his returning players.
He said: “There is a sense of excitement and a freshness about the place after the extended lay-off. It was a good first session back.”
The players came into their first training session of the season knowing they will be kicking the Highland League campaign off against Wick Academy at Mosset Park on July 24.
The fixture list, released last Friday, has the Cans travelling to Formartine United on July 31 before hosting Strathspey Thistle at home the week after.
In terms of notable fixtures, Nairn County away comes on September 4, with Mechanics visiting newly-relegated Brechin City at Glebe Park on September 25.
On paper, the opening fixtures seem relatively generous for Forres – with a string of winnable home games.
But Rowley knows Mechanics will need to be at it early on in the campaign.
He said: “The first couple of games are always a level playing field so it’s a bit of an unknown at the moment.
“Fitness levels are on a par and there is no momentum for any team.
“However, it’s a favourable start in terms of the mix in teams that should be at the top and bottom.
“That’s good because the last few seasons we have had tough starts.”
Mechanics are likely to be without central defender James Ross and full back Ryan Farquhar for the new season, with both thinking over their futures in football, but sights are set high.
Rowley added: “We are disappointed to lose a player of Ryan’s calibre and it will be a bonus if James does decide to come back now – we are preparing for the season without him.
"But there are aims of top six again and, ideally, we want to push a wee bit higher if we can keep everyone fit and available.”
The only bad news from the return to training was a hamstring strain picked up by defender Ruari Fraser.
Mechanics have arranged a friendly against Inverness Caledonian Thistle for Saturday, June 26, with five other bounce matches in the pipeline.