NAIRN County should been boosted by the return of three key players for Saturday’s home Highland League game against Strathspey Thistle.
The news that Callum Maclean, Jason Morganti and Willie Barron are all back in the fold comes at a time when skipper Wayne Mackintosh could be sidelined with an ankle injury.
The much-changed Nairn squad are looking for their second win of the season following their 1-0 derby defeat at Clach last weekend.
A Michael Finnis first half penalty made all the difference, while Stuart Leslie blazed a second spot-kick over the top after the break on a day when the Lilywhites ran out deserved winners.
Nairn boss Ronnie Sharp said: "We missed Callum in the middle of the park against Clach.
"We’ll keep battling away. We’ll give the young boys the game time they need because that’s the only way they’ll learn. Some of them are only 17."
Sharp was honest in his assessment of his side’s performance, with the midweek exertions at Formartine sapping a lot of energy out of the side.
"We didn’t look like scoring and if we did, it would have to have been something special," said Sharp.
"The boys were saying they felt quite heavy in the warm-up and they looked tired. We don’t have the experience to come off the bench – they’re all young boys.
"We weren’t outclassed. Apart from one game, we’ve been in every one."
Clach manager Iain Polworth, meanwhile, was delighted to notch a second win of the week following their 5-0 cruise at Fort William, but admits they needed to be more ruthless in this derby encounter.
He said: "It was a good three points for us. Anyone watching would say that we deserved to win the game.
"The less pleasing factor for me was the amount of chances we passed up. We should have been out of sight by half-time if I’m being brutally honest.
"We then missed more glaring opportunities after that, but you have got to be happy by winning the local derby.
"One of the most pleasing aspects was that we got another clean sheet and that’s three so far this season, yet it was three for the whole of last season. That’s a good base to work from."
The Merkinchers can leapfrog their hosts Forres this Saturday should they win as they are now just one point behind them.
Although the Can Cans drew with Formartine on Saturday, they blew a 2-0 advantage.
Last season, Clach were 1-0 home winners against Forres in April, but were beaten 3-0 earlier in the campaign at Mosset Park.*** Clach and Nairn County have been drawn against Lowland League opponents in the first round of the William Hill Scottish Cup on Saturday, September 24, with the Lilywhites at home to Stirling University and Preston Athletic off to Station Park.
Stirling Uni are on eight points from their opening six matches, while Preston have four points from their first seven games.