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Shane set for Elgin return?

By Craig Christie

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BYGONES will be bygones at Elgin City if striker Shane Sutherland completes a return to the Borough Briggs club next week.

Shane Sutherland wants to be part of Barry Wilson's plans to bring progress to Elgin City.
Shane Sutherland wants to be part of Barry Wilson's plans to bring progress to Elgin City.

City boss Jim Weir said he is closing in on a deal to bring 25-year-old Sutherland back to the club after a year at Peterhead.

The former Caley Thistle forward left City under a cloud 12 months ago, criticising a section of the Black and Whites support for the rough treatment he was given by them and saying the team’s style of play didn’t suit him.

Sutherland moved up to League 1 with Peterhead and netted 13 times for the Buchan men, but failed to strike a new deal at Balmooor.

Elgin have moved to try and lure the attacker back, with Weir saying any past comments made by the player will be forgotten.

“We are very close to bringing Shane Sutherland back,” said the City boss. “We found out that he was available so we had a chat.

“We are just about there and if we can conclude it I will be delighted.

“There were a lot of things said when he left but sometimes things are said in the heat of the moment. I’ve been there myself as a player. I don’t hold any grudges and I’m sure the supporters will give him full support if he continues the way he did when he left us.”

Sutherland is Elgin’s third highest scorer in 16 years of Scottish League football, having netted 32 times in two seasons plus a loan spell from Caley Thistle.

Despite his goals, he fell victim of a small section of the City support who made their feelings known about a perceived lazy style of play.

Boss Weir did suggest during the player’s last spell at the club that Sutherland’s body language could at times give the impression that he wasn’t giving everything for the cause.

“Shane did great for us in the year we came in and we started to turn the season around. He was a big part of that and we were disappointed to lose him.

“Maybe he didn’t endear himself at times but I know his qualities and they are qualities that I think will help us progress. He’s strong, he gets you up the park and he can score goals.

“As for his style of play, every player is different in that respect. Supporters are hard working people and the majority of the time they pay good money and work hard all week so they like to see hard work on the pitch.

“At times they will accept defeat if they feel that the team has given everything they’ve got, and sometimes body language can be taken the wrong way. It’s just the player’s character.

“Certainly Shane is a match-winner and a player who would enhance our squad.”

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Weir has already brought in midfielder Jamie Reid from Arbroath and will complete the signing of a second former Red Lichtie, Kieran Stewart, at the beginning of next week.

He is also understood to have made offers to two junior players based around the Perth area, both of whom are currently on holiday.

Link: Elgin City's 2016-17 fixtures revealed

One of the unnamed players he is chasing had a trial spell with Elgin at the start of last season, during which he trained with the squad and played in a friendly game at Lossiemouth.

The City boss also revealed he has his sights on one more player who has Scottish League experience.

However, it seems likely that former St Mirren midfielder Thomas Reilly will join Dylan Easton out of the Borough Briggs exit door.

With Weir forming a more north-based squad for next season, he fears Reilly may reject the offer made to him by Elgin due to the fact that he would be travelling up from the Ayrshire area on his own for games.

“We’ve kept in touch with the situation with Thomas, but it looks at this moment in time that it’s unlikely he will come back.

“We would be disappointed to lose Thomas on the back of losing Dylan.”

City will begin their pre-season training this weekend, with Stevie Ross among those who will take part in the sessions. The former Ross County man is mulling over a contract offer made to him by Elgin and will make a decision soon.

Weir is keen to have more north players in his squad as he believes it can help to bring more consistent results next term.

“The more the merrier from the north,” he said. “That can help generate some success in our away form as well, travelling and training together.”

Weir is disappointed he will miss his team’s first competitive outing of next term, the home Betfred Cup clash against his old club St Johnstone.

The City boss is taking part in an Ironman competition that weekend in Bolton, where he has to register on the Saturday morning. He said he made the club aware of his arrangements long before the fixtures were drawn up and the earlier start to the season than normal has caught him on the hop.

Elgin will play Keith and Lossiemouth away in friendlies, with the possibility of them adding one midweek match between the start of July and the Saints cup tie.

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