As one football season almost merges into the next, we begin our 2019/20 pre-season friendly schedule with a visit to Forfar tomorrow. The venue was one of my favourite away days back in League 1 - a decent stadium, well-maintained but also enough of a throwback to satisfy the football purist in me.
The game, of course, represents the first chance to see the raft of new signings brought in over the summer. Stevie Crawford has been very active, rebuilding almost the whole squad in time for pre-season training. There could still be a couple of new additions (that's just conjecture, believing we still need at least one ''older head'' and preferably another winger) but the majority of the new season's pool of players will be on show tomorrow.
The game may give us a clue as to how certain players will be deployed in the coming weeks. We have enough defenders to play a 2 or 3 man central defence, and could also see adaptable centre backs used as fullbacks, with Euan Murray and Lewis Martin candidates for the leftback role vacated by Jackson Longridge. That would leave Lee Ashcroft, Tom Lang and Danny Devine to compete for the central defensive positions. Stuart Morrison, who has played most of his young career in defence, is seen more as a defensive midfielder by the manager, while teenagers Thomas Bragg and Gregor Jordan will mainly feature in the reserves. The rightback slot will be taken by either Aaron Comrie or Matthew Bowman.
Tom Beadling, Paul Paton, Matty Todd, Kyle Turner, Paul Allan and the previously-mentioned Morrison are central midfield options, while Ryan Dow and Josh Coley operate mainly as wingers or, in Dow's case, also playing off the main strikers. Joe Thomson's long-term injury renders him unavailable, sadly. As with the wider choices in defence, the midfield has a good group of teenagers who will be mainstays of the reserve team while pushing for a first team squad place, among them Lewis Crosbie and Paul Brown.
In attack, familiar faces Andy Ryan, Lewis McCann and Callum Smith will be up against new signings Kevin Nisbet and the man with the best name in football, Gabby McGill, for a place in the team - or preferably 2 places, with last season's one up front tactic hopefully left where it belongs - in the past.
A full match report will be posted tomorrow evening.