JAMIE Duff says Elgin City are handing their League 2 rivals an advantage with their split training camps.
But he believes new gaffer Barry Wilson’s tactics could provide a short-term fix to the club’s geographical dilemma.
Duff (25) was stand-in skipper and man-of-the-match in Wilson’s first game in charge, Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Albion Rovers.
The former Caley Thistle stopper scored City’s 70th minute equaliser, and was part of an improved defensive display by the Black and Whites’ rearguard.
Elgin’s back four has come under fire for losing too many goals this term – 54 in 27 outings – but Duff says fans must consider the problems faced by trying to form a solid defence unit with players who don’t train together.
“I’m the only North-based defender and it’s difficult to work on anything,” he said. “You have to remember that it’s a tough situation when we are just thrown together on a Saturday and are expected to gel like maybe the other teams in the league do.
“They are training twice or three times a week, 40-odd weeks a year. So they’ve got the edge over us in that aspect.”
He recalled when himself and team-mate Mark Nicolson formed a central defensive partnership a couple of seasons ago, and were able to build up an understanding in twice weekly sessions at their Inverness training base to help them bond as a centre back duo.
“At the moment it’s myself and Sean (Crighton). I think Sean and the others all train with different teams down the road, so it’s definitely not ideal. Training together would help massively.”
From a defensive point of view, Elgin did look more secure against Albion on Saturday, only conceding once to a Scott Chaplain penalty given for Graeme Beveridge’s 54th minute foul.
Playing with a rigid, more traditional formation could have been a factor in their better show at the back, Duff suggests.
“It was back to basics,” he said after Saturday’s draw. “We played 4-4-2 and I think with the personnel that we’ve got, we’ve gone with different formations to suit the personnel. Today we’ve just gone with two banks of four and that probably helped the defence at times.
“Everyone knows because we can’t work on our shape during the week, all the boys should know playing a 4-4-2 where they should be, what they should be doing, and just getting us back enjoying it.”
The defender welcomed Wilson’s appointment, saying it has already added fresh impetus to the efforts of the team.
“I think the boys are pleased he’s a familiar face, for most of us. Whenever a new manager comes in it will give you that extra two yards, that extra effort, because you want to impress him.
“There’s maybe boys who were favoured by the previous management who were getting games week in, week out that have to prove themselves again. There’s boys who aren’t getting a game who want to get into the team.
“Everybody has got a spring in their step and they just want a jersey at the end of the day.
“The majority of the boys here could probably walk into any team in this league. It’s just the fact that we can’t work on things as a team that’s the sticking point at the moment.
“It’s not ideal with the boys from down the road but if we can figure out a way where we might get together once a week or more, it would help things.
“We want the nucleus of this team to stay together and I hope that happens.”