Brora Rangers manager Steven Mackay hopes his younger players will still relish the test of top-flight Hibernian despite tonight’s Betfred Cup tie being played at an empty Easter Road.
The Cattachs will play their first competitive match since their 4-1 win over rivals Wick Academy on March 7, when they make the trip to Edinburgh for their opening League Cup fixture.
Although the Cattachs’ trip to one of the biggest venues in Scotland will be played behind closed doors, Mackay feels his players can still enjoy the experience of facing Jack Ross’ high-flying side.
Mackay said: “We are grateful for the opportunity to compete in this competition and we will give it our all.
“Nobody for one minute gives us any chance of going there and doing anything. We will work hard and frustrate them and see what can happen.
“Some players in our squad are experienced and have played against teams of this calibre before, but the vast majority of our team won’t have been exposed to this level.
“I’m excited for the younger players in our squad to experience playing a team of this level, and seeing how they cope with it.
“While it would have been a great experience for them to have a few thousand Hibs fans shouting at them, it’s a great challenge and one we’re looking forward to.”
The fitness advantage enjoyed by full-time Hibs will be augmented by the fact they are already 10 games into the Premiership season, however Mackay is eagerly anticipating the return of competitive football following friendly wins over Elgin City and an Orkney select.
Mackay, who will take a fully fit squad of 18 players south, added: “In terms of preparation we are probably not where we want to be, but we are not going to complain about it.
“It’s competitive football and we are playing one of the in-form teams in Scottish football, who are sitting third in the Premiership.
“As far as challenges go it’s great for us. In pre-season we sometimes get the opportunity to play a Premiership side like Ross County which is always good for us, but this will have that competitive edge.
“It’s unfortunate there are no fans there, but we have been used to that in the last few weeks.”
Tonight’s match is the only game for which Brora will be required to undertake Covid-19 testing, which was provided by Ross County at Victoria Park on Saturday.
Brora confirmed a full round of negative tests, with Mackay adding: “It went seamlessly well. I have to mention Ross County’s chief executive Steven Ferguson and secretary Fiona MacBean for their assistance in co-ordinating that so efficiently and quickly.
“It was slightly invasive – Don Cowie had been winding me up about how it was down the back of the throat and into the brain so I had a worst case scenario in my head, but it wasn’t as bad I thought.”