Fort adds nine new local players to squad ahead of season start
FORT William teenager and new Caley Thistle goalkeeping professional, Martin Mackinnon, and former Fort captain, Andrew Martin, are among nine new local additions to the club’s squad ahead of the new season.
Fort co-manager Ali Smith revealed his new 22-strong squad ahead of Saturday’s season opener away to Keith.
Smith, one of a whole new management structure at the club, says there is a real excitment and buzz about the team following a successful pre-season.
‘We’ve added nine new players, who are all local boys and we’re hoping to add another two to the squad in the next fortnight,’ Smith told us earlier this week.
Youngster Mackinnon, aged 17, who has just signed a two-year contract with Caley Thistle, is on a season’s loan to Fort, while he trains with the Inverness side.
Former Fort skipper and centre-half Martin returns to playing after a five-year absence due to an injury.
‘ We are absolutely delighted to have Martin Mackinnon on loan and to play a part in the next stage of his development as a player,’ Smith said.
‘And we are also really pleased to have Andrew Martin back as he brings a lot of experience to what is a very young team.’
The other seven new additions are Lopez brothers Kieran and Steven, John Treasurer, Scott Hunter, Ronan Cameron and youth development players, Ryan Henderson and Billy Rydings, who step up to the senior squad.
Smith added: ‘Seeing Ryan and Billy take the next step in their football careers is fantastic and it shows the great work the development squad is doing to help produce players for the senior team.’
The new additions to the squad complement a core of already established players and Smith hopes this blend will pay dividends on and off the park.
‘We now have a really strong squad including a strong representation of local footballers which is great for us,’ Smith continued.
‘Our pre-season went really well. Naturally there will be ups and downs during the season, but what will make all the difference is if we can get more support through the gates at Claggan Park for our home games.’
Smith admits Saturday’s away game to Keith will be tough but is confident his young team - which he will name after Thursday night training - will acquit itself well.
‘ We need to perform well against Keith and then take that momentum into our first home game on Wednesday night at Claggan Park against Rothes,’ he said. Kick- off 8pm.
Fort New Management team, from left, joint manager Ali Smith, goalkeeping coach Ally MacPherson and joint manager Paul MacLellan.