Highland League derby success against Clachnacuddin can help make Nairn County's Scottish Cup exit a distant memory
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Ronnie Sharp remains confident Nairn County can build on their recent Highland League revival in Saturday’s eagerly-anticipated derby with Clach.
The local rivals will draw swords at Station Park in a match all the more intriguing for recent squad changes, enforced or otherwise, within both youthful camps.
Nairn will need to shake off the ill-effects of a 5-0 Scottish Cup drubbing away to Banks O’Dee at the weekend, on a day when inexperience in the injury-stricken ranks hit them hard.
“Injuries at the moment are a major problem,” Sharp said.
“From the team who took us through a couple of rounds in the Scottish cup last year, we only had three of them playing at the weekend – Dylan MacLean, Adam Porritt and Tom MacLennan.
“We have seven injured, all players who would be playing regularly for us.”
The missing men were Calum Howarth, Fraser Dingwall, Cohen Ramsay, Callum Maclean, Kenny Mackenzie, Scott Davidson and Liam Shewan.
“They all started for us in the Scottish Cup last season,” Sharp said.
“We’re relying at the moment on young boys coming in and playing a lot of minutes, which is not ideal for them. I’d rather bring them in slowly, but they’re all playing. It is just tough for everyone at the moment.”
Of the seven out on Saturday, only Mackenzie, back in light training, and Shewan, recovering from a head wound sustained in training, have a chance of featuring against the Lilywhites.
The side’s dismantling at Dee’s Spain Park was a reminder of just what a powerful addition they will be next season, if and when the likely north junior champions are promoted through a play-off with the bottom Highland side.
“They have real quality – we just weren’t as good as them,” Sharp said.
“Even if we’d had the players who are injured back, we would have found it a very difficult game.
“At the moment we’re trying to patch a side together, and Spain Park is not a place to go while you’re trying to do that. They have a fantastic set-up. They should be a Highland League side, and one that’s looking to move up the leagues.”
Clach’s visit will be the first derby of the season.
“It usually is exciting when we play Clach,” the Nairn manager said.
“It is the game of the season for most of the players, and always an interesting game for the supporters, too.
“In the last three league games, we’ve won two and drawn one, so we’re not in a bad place. Saturday was just a game too far for us.”