IRVINE Meadow manager Chris Strain will once again have to drag his battle-weary squad towards another title triumph as injuries start to take their toll on the defending champions.
Not for the first time Strain felt he had a squad which was big enough to cope with the rigours of the end of season madnes which afflicts Junior football.
But, not for the first time, the best laid plans have gone astray as one problem after another has ravaged the player pool.
“It’s a bit like Groundhog Day as once again we find ourselves having to send out the same faces week after week, even though many of them are playing in spite of some quite severe injuries.
“I was pretty sure I had enough to cope with every eventuality but one by one the injuries have been mounting up and even players like Simon Eeles – who would have been brought in to keep things fresh and give others a rest – are picking up knocks.”
Meadow’s injury list reads like something out of Casualty with David McGeown, Chris Strain Jnr, Garry Fleming and David Hamilton all playing through injuries and Eeles, Chris McGowan and Mick Hughes all unable to take part in the action.
“I really can’t praise those players enough for the way they keep soldiering on two or three times a week, especially David Hamilton who’s in agony with what could be a cracked bone in his foot but is turning in some terrific displays.”
Strain is still on the player hunt with an official approach for Beith’s Andy Reid in the offing and he’s also talking to a senior defender, but he’s recovering from injury and would need to prove he’s fit for the Junior game before any deal can be done.
An approach to a leading player from a lower grade was quickly abandoned when the player unveiled his financial demands.
Meadow now face another hectic spell with Ashfield at home in the league as we went to press on Wednesday night, a trip to Glenafton on West Cup duty on Saturday, a league game at Clydebank on Monday and an Ayrshire Cup tie at Maybole next Wednesday night.
But the manager admits he’s adopting a tunnel vision approach as the season reaches a nail-biting climax.
“We’re only seven points away from winning the league and that’s all that counts,” he added. “All I’m interested in now is points.
“We’ve been a wee bit flat in recent matches, but that’s due to a combination of the heavy programme and the growing injury list.
“Two wins and a draw from our last four games guarantees the title – and that’s what we’re aiming for.”