ARBROATH manager Paul Sheerin could be facing an injury crisis before a ball has even been kicked in the league season.
The Lichties begin their Second Division campaign tomorrow (Saturday) at home to Albion Rovers when they will also be presented with their Third Division championship winning flag.
But the boss is already having to contend with a selection headache as several key players could be missing.
Last term’s top scorer, Gavin Swankie, who had to sit out of the League Cup clash against Livingston, is struggling with an injury sustained in training as is Australian defender Beau Busch.
Striker Jordan Elfverson also limped out of Monday night’s friendly against Aberdeen and centre-back Craig Wedderburn, who has a back problem, could be missing.
And added to the manager’s woes is the suspension of Steven Doris, who received a straight red card against Livingston on Saturday.
Mr Sheerin told HeraldSport the growing injury list is not something he intended to see so soon into the campaign but hopes it will drive competition for places.
He said: “The situation is not ideal, especially so early on but hopefully we can get them out of the way now.
“It is a worry when you only have 15 signed outfield players but it is just one of those things that is unfortunate.
“But it could give some opportunities to the other players and once they are in the team I’m sure they will want to stay there for as long as possible.”
Tomorrow is set to be a big day for the club with the raising of the championship flag and everyone at Gayfield is looking forward to the momentous occasion.
And the manager added he hopes his team can get the right result to match the day.
He explained: “Everybody has been looking forward to the start of the league season with the championship flag so hopefully we can put in a performance to go with the occasion.
“It is important we get a good start and you want to be getting off the mark soon with points.
“You see it time and time again in the English Premier League when teams go up and they have a great start and then have to hold out for results later on in the season.
“So that is why it is vital that your start is a good one.”
Tomorrow’s opponents, Albion Rovers, were also promoted to the Second Division at the end of last season but were on the receiving end of a 4-2 defeat against Falkirk in the League Cup on Saturday.
And Mr Sheerin is predicting a tough start against them.
He added: “We did play them four times last season but obviously there have been changes for both sides.
“I suppose we don’t have the element of surprise as we know what they are about but we had them watched on Saturday and by all accounts they were unlucky not to get a result.
“But hopefully we can get the three points and build on them in the right way.”
However, recent preparations for the start of the new league season have been less than ideal with a 6-0 defeat away to Livingston in the League Cup on Saturday.
And this was followed by a 4-0 loss to Aberdeen in a Monday night friendly at Gayfield.
But the boss is hoping this acts as a wake-up call to his players.
He said: “It was a big blow to lose all of these goals but maybe it puts into perspective that we aren’t as good as we thought and that there is no room for complacency.
“Last season it took us a while to get going in the league but we don’t want to fall into that trap again.”