Mark Adams, GUFC Head Coach, has had to rebuild the squad ahead of their first Scottish Cup fixture against Kilwinning with seven players out injured.
Glasgow University Football Club (GUFC) had a successful run in the Scottish Cup last season. They defied the bookies in their first round game against Forres Mechanics to progress to the second round. They were then narrowly beaten by Albion Rovers, a League Two side. GUFC are looking to replicate their Scottish Cup success this year. But with seven players currently injured, Head Coach Mark Adams has had to rebuild his squad before their second round preliminary match against Kilwinning Rangers on 2 September.
“It’s been a total rebuild,” Mark said. “We’ve had seven players out for the last four weeks already. We’ve got two rehabbing from long-term ACL injuries. We also had 17 players graduate since last season.”
“We’ve also had four graduate players who have moved on, one who’s employed, and one who’s in Spain this year because he’s doing a degree in Spanish,” Mark added.
Despite the high injury count, GUFC has replaced their experienced side with talented fresh faces. The new scholarship programme supported by GUSA has meant that GUFC has players coming from football academies across Scotland.
“Two of our players are coming of out Hibernian F.C’s academy, one out of St Johnstone F.C, and one out of Morton FC’s academy, so we’re getting a high calibre of players,” Mark said.
Captain Tom Reid also commented on the high injury count within the squad. He remains optimistic, despite feeling like the squad is “understaffed” with experienced players forced to sit on the sidelines.
“It’s really exciting to have new academy players in our squad,” Tom said. “We’ve got some unreal players coming through. We’ve gone from a more experienced team to a more talented team. It’s two different ends of the spectrum and it’s going to be hard playing in this competition without experience.”
Mark is positive about capitalising on the talent in his current squad despite facing the professional side Kilwinning Rangers.
“We’re up for a fight this year. We’ve got some great lads in the squad,” he said
“I can see how hard they’re working in training. They really listen to the coaches. The good thing about coaching students is by their very nature, they want to learn. And for someone like me whose experience has been in developing young players, having boys that are now playing semi-pro or pro football, that’s my legacy. That’s the reason I do what I do.”
Kilwinning Rangers latest signings have included striker Graham Boyd and central defender Mark McLuckie. Boyd steps into his white and blue strip after being signed from Cumnock and McLuckie is on loan from the West of Scotland Football League (WoSFL) Premier Division side St Cadocs.
Mark Adams acknowledged the potential threat these signings pose to GUFC ahead of their preliminary fixture.
“They’re definitely a threat,” he said. “They’ve come down from the Premier League so they’re a bit of a wounded animal just now. I’ve spoken to the ex-manager Dave Gormley, who has since moved on from the club, to discuss the team’s set up. And I know how professional and experienced Kilwinning are from seeing them play in the Lowland League.
“Kilwinning have brought in a mixture of youth and experience. They’re expecting to beat us because we’re one of the lowest-ranked teams in the competition, as we were last year.”
Mark is looking to capitalise on GUFC’s success in the Scottish Cup last season. They’re going to fight Kilwinning’s youth and experience with talent and excitement.