McLaren out with suspected broken toe

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BERWICK’S preparations for their first-ever meeting with Deveronvale in the Scottish Cup this weekend have been hampered with the news that in-form Fraser McLaren has a suspected broken toe.

The midfielder, who has scored six goals for Rangers already this season, picked up the injury at Alloa on Saturday when Jimmy Crease’s side came from behind to take a point from a 1-1 draw.

McLaren was due to have the injury assessed at hospital this week, but at the time of going to press the situation was still unclear.

“We hope it is only bruised,” said Crease, “but there is a possibility it is broken.

“If that is the case it will mean several weeks on the sidelines, and with the form he has been in that will be a big blow for us.”

Berwick are also sweating on the fitness of central defender Chris Townsley, who has picked up a recurring knee injury, whilst assistant manager Ian Little, who also missed the trip to Recreation Park at the weekend, remains a doubt.

“It’s not the ideal way to prepare for the game,” admitted Crease.

“But we think we have enough about ourselves to go up there and win at Deveronvale.

“They haven’t been going too well this season, although they got a draw with a last minute equaliser on Saturday.

“They were also runners-up in the highly competitive Highland League last season, so that shows they will be no push-over.

“This is a big game for them, in many respects they will be treating it like a Cup Final, and as our game against Cove Rangers last season proved, we cannot afford to treat them lightly.

“From our point of view the injuries are a set-back, but we have to work around them.

“Darren Gribben will be available again after his one-match suspension and there is a possibility, no more at this stage, that we might have a new face in the team by the weekend.

“I don’t want to say too much at the moment, but if it comes off the player should be eligible to make his debut at Deveronvale.”

Crease says he is growing increasingly concerned at Berwick’s inability to keep a clean sheet.

“I think that’s 20 games in a row we have conceded in now,” he said, “which means we have to score twice to win a game and that’s always a big ask.

“In saying that I was happy to come away from Alloa with a point because they are a very good side and I don’t think there will be many teams go there and win.

“It was all the more pleasing bearing in mind our injuries and suspension and the fact we went behind early in the match.”