Berwick Rangers gaffer Ian Little thinks it’s detrimental that clubs are banned from fielding trialists in Betfred Cup ties.
Little’s Lowland League outfit were battered 7-0 at home by Championship cracks Ayr United on Saturday, with Little saying his preparations had been hampered by only having a squad of 16 to pick from and being unable to bring in new blood.
“It’s unfortunate that you can’t play trialists in the Betfred Cup,” Little told the Berwickshire News.
“I think you should be allowed to play a minimum of two trialists in the tournament.
“Not to be allowed to play any is difficult.
“Especially when you consider that I lost 15 players in the summer.
“I think the ‘no trialists’ rule is OK if you have a squad of 20 players and a full-time team and reserve players.
“But when you are part-time, you find it difficult.
“You don’t want to commit to signing players and the players don’t want to commit to you.
“Ayr have always been a big club and they are taking steps forward to being a really top class club.
“It was difficult for us. I don’t want to make excuses, but we have not had much time to get a squad in.
“We are part-time and, if you perform the way we did against a team like Ayr, then you’re going to get beaten.
“We gave away too many easy goals but I was very impressed by Ayr.”
Despite Berwick being convincingly defeated by Ayr, Little was still looking at the positives from a Berwick point of view.
He added: “We have just got to learn from Ayr.
“My boys need to realise that if they want to work themselves up to play at a higher level of football, they have to work as hard as those Ayr players.
“I would like to think they will learn and strive to get to that next level.
“We had a spell of 20 minutes where we worked hard. After that, we weren’t great.
“And I don’t think we kept the ball well enough. Although Ayr are three leagues above us, you don’t expect a 7-0 result.
“We did keep the ball better when we eventually got forward.
“Hopefully, the players will learn quickly.”
The first chance to see if Berwick are learning lessons will come at Stair Park this Saturday, when they face League One outfit Stranraer in their next Betfred sectional tie.
“Stranraer have been quite successful in the last couple of years,” Little said.
“They have been up there, so it will be another tough game, especially given that we are travelling there.
“The pitch is a wee bit smaller than our pitch, which suited Ayr.
“We need to concentrate on ourselves and work hard for each other.
“We need not to give the ball away cheaply and make the other team work hard to get it.
“But I’ve got players in at the club who have only been in a week, so I can’t expect them to work miracles.”
Little – who, at time of going to press, only had a squad of 16 players at his disposal – also revealed he hoped to be active in the transfer market before Saturday’s game.
He added: “I will try and get a couple of new signings in before Saturday.
“I would like to think we will do better this weekend.
“We will work hard on the basics at training this week, getting them to realise how important it is to work as a unit.
“When you have the ball at your feet, you have to be brave, show your qualities and keep it.”
Berwick also host Falkirk in the Betfred Cup next Tuesday, July 23, kick-off 7.45pm.