BERWICK, who kick off their pre-season friendlies this Saturday with a home game against a Hearts XI, have boosted their squad with the addition of two newcomers as well as an old favourite.
Fraser McLaren, who has had four seasons at Shielfield Park, has bagged 21 goals in 89 appearances for the Black and Gold, and he returns as part of Ian Little’s revamped first team squad.
The 23 year-old, who previously played for Ayr and Gretna, is seen by Little as a welcome addition to the squad, as he should add some valuable experience.
And he will be joined by new signings Dean Hoskins and Neil Janczyk, who have both agreed terms this week.
Hoskins, a left back, previously played for Spartans in Edinburgh, where he gained a reputation as a free kick specialist.
“He is a strong player,” said Little, “and has a good left foot on him. He should be a big player for us and I think he will do well.”
Janczyk, who is 29, is a former Hearts player, who has also turned out for Brechin and East Fife.
He is an experienced midfield player and Little is hoping he fits in well with the third division outfit.
The pair join Berwick’s only other close season new signing so far, goalkeeper Youseff Bejaoui, but there is a question mark over Janczyk’s inclusion in the squad for the games against the young Hearts side this weekend as he has a thigh strain.
Little is also hoping to include a number of trialists in the match, including former reserve team player Dougie Brydon, who looks as if he could be on his way back to the club after spells with Coldstream and Duns in the East of Scotland League.
The Duns-based central defender, who can also play in midfield, has been training with the club for the last couple of weeks and is keen on a move back to The Borderers.
But it is understood there are some complications over the move, as he is also contracted to Duns, and further discussions with the club will be needed to resolve the issue.
Brydon has already agreed terms with Rangers and the 25-year-old, who also attrracted interest from First Division sides Ayr United and Livingston said: “It’s great to be given the chance to play for my local team and it is a challenge I am really looking forwward to.
“I already know a few of the lads in the squad and I am enjoying the pre-season training. I know I will have to work hard to earn a place in the side and I can’t wait for the season to get underway”
If Brydon gets his wish and moves to Berwick he could be given an early chance to stake his claim for a place in the starting line-up with Chris Townsley due to miss most of the pre-season friendly games because he is getting married.
Townsley is due to jet off to America, where he is honeymooning in Las Vegas and San Francisco, and that could pave the way for Brydon to strike up a partnership with fellow Borderer Andy McLean.
McLean, who is hoping to make himself a regular in the starting line-up, says he would welcome the competition.
“This season I would like to become a more regular fixture,” he said, “but I know there will be competition for places, and that can only be a good thing.”
Townsley, who has had one season at Shielfield following his switch from Spartans, says that because of his marriage and impending honeymoon he knows he will have to work extra-hard in training if he is to hit the ground running at the start of the season.
“I’ll miss most of the pre-season games,” he said, “so it’s important I get myself in shape if I want to be in contention for a team place when I come back.
“I enjoyed my first season here at Berwick, but was disappointed we didn’t finish higher up the league, or make the play-offs, as I think that was our aim.
“That has to be the target again this year, and I think we have a squad capable of pushing for the top. There are some young, exciting players here, and they want to impress.
“There is a feel-good factor around the club at the moment. The new season is just around the corner, we have a new management team, some fresh new faces and everyone is full of optimism.”