Goalkeepers a priority for Berwick boss

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Berwick Rangers returned to pre-season training this week with manager Ian Little still looking for five players to complete his squad.

Little says he is hoping to add two goalkeepers, another centre half and two wide or attacking players to his pool, giving him 22 to choose from.

Of those, five will be players who are stepping up from the reserves.

Dean Carse, Josh Morris, Jonny Fairbairn, Kenny O’Brien and possibly Ross Brady will train regularly with the rest of the first team squad, but to start with will be likely to turn out for the reserves again on a weekly basis until an opportunity arises for them to break through.

“They need to be playing,” said Little. “They need to be match fit, so the key is to get them playing regularly, and to start with that will probably mean with the reserves.

“I am looking to run with a 17-strong first team squad, plus five additions.But of those 17, two will be goalkeepers, which means only 15 outfield players, and it only takes a couple of injuries which is why I need that cover.

“The priority has to be to get a couple of keepers in,” said Little, “and to that end we have a couple who will be training with us this week.”

Little is due to leave on a family holiday this weekend and ideally would like any possible deals to be concluded before he goes, but if not, assistant Robbie Horn will hold the fort in his absence.

Of the other possible additions Little says he is keen to add another centre back to his pool.

New signing Stephen Tulloch and the returning Dougie Brydon are likely to start as first choice pairing, but Little says he wants additional cover.

“Doug missed the back end of last season with his groin injury. We are hoping he will be okay, but you never know, so we have to be covered for all eventualities.”

Fraser McLaren, who has been offered a new contract, has yet to agree terms, and providing he accepts he is likely to be one of the two wide/attacking options Little is looking at. McLaren, who started out playing wide right, scored a lot of vital goals when he switched through the middle, and only recently Horn said he was hopeful the attacking midfielder would be back.

Berwick will train three times a week in the build-up to the new campaign on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and at the moment they have arranged a series of pre-season friendlies including:

Saturday, July 6 - Ashington (away), Tues 9 - Brechin (away); Sat 13 - Oxford United (home); Tues 16 - Whitehill Welfare (away); Tues 23 - Musselburgh Juniors (away); and Tues 30 - Tranent (away).

They are also hoping to arrange a more high profile home game for Saturday 20, whilst their first competitive game will be on Saturday, July 27. Their league campaign begins away to Clyde on August 10.

Little confirmed the Ashington game on July 6, which is currently listed as being away, may be switched to Shielfield as both he and Horn are unavailable to take the team that day. “It’s only a possibility at this stage,” he said, “but it might switch.”