Sharp intake of youngsters at Rothes
ROTHES are aiming to develop young Speyside talent towards Highland League football with the formation of their first-ever under-20s team.
The MacKessack Park club have enlisted first team coach Nathan Sharp to work with former Rothes boss Davie Simpson and youth coach Graeme Christie in leading the 20s this season.
Helping out the trio is former Keith and Forres Mechanics player Craig McGovern, currently out of football with a knee injury.
Rothes will play in a Moray-dominated North of Scotland under-20 league alongside Elgin City, Lossiemouth, Forres, Nairn County and Clach, with their first game at Nairn on Monday night.
“We’ve worked with under-15s and 17s but I always felt it was too big a step for these young lads to the first team,” said Sharp. “They were either going away to play for somebody else or losing interest altogether.
“So we started the 20s and there was 28 turned up for the first session, which we’ve taken down to 18 or 19.
“It’s just about giving them an opportunity.”
Rothes already have three under-20s in Ben Johnstone, Ryan McRitchie and Ewan Neil in their first team squad who are eligible to play in the north league.
“They can also play three overage players, giving them a chance to add fringe first teamers or players coming back from injury to give them valuable minutes.
“The majority of loons are coming from Speyside,” added Sharp.
Two each from Keith and Elgin are part of the squad, as is Innes Copeland, brother of ex-Buckie Thistle midfielder Drew.
Some Speyside-based players had been recruited by Huntly in recent years but have made the switch back to their local club now they have started a 20s team.
“It’s all about building the club as well.
“We might be a bit hit or miss to begin with but the main thing is we are building that bridge between youth level and the first team.
“If we can get one or two breaking through it will be ideal.”