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IT was tough enough tipping games involving the likes of Spain, Germany and England - now it's back to matches featuring the likes of Airdrie and Cowdenbeath whose squads read like a Who's He.

I was down the paper shop yesterday and for the first time this close season got asked: What are the good things for Saturday? That's the toughest question I've been asked since someone wrote to me looking for Paul the Octopus' favourite number. But he's retired and as the creatures live just three years you'll have to put up with me for Euro 2012.

Anyway even the psychic octopus would struggle to pick Challenge Cup winners.

For most teams today's firstround matches are simply an extension of pre-season and of course there is no form to go by and loads of new players are bedding in.

Having said that Airdrie, who earlier this week only had seven players signed, and Cowdenbeath, who lost their manager and four of their best performers to St Mirren, must be backed against.

Airdrie's interim boss Jimmy Boyle has assembled a squad of 16 but Paul Lovering and Ryan Wallace are the only two with experience.

ey must be taken on against Ayr at Alloa's Recreation Park.

Unfortunately the price is crashing and after being 11-8 early in the week the best you can have on Ayr is 21-10 with Bet365.

Raith Rovers look cracking value at 8-11 with the likes of Stan James and Bodog at home to Cowdenbeath whose former boss Danny Lennon has taken Peter Bradley, Paul McQuade, Darren McGregor and Gareth Wardlaw with him to Paisley. You would expect big guns Dundee and Dunfermline to beat Alloa and Arbroath respectively with home advantage.

e Dens men, without crocked striker Leigh Gri ths, are 4-9 with 888sport and others while Bet365 go a biggest 4-11 on the Pars.

Falkirk will be out to impress before launching their assault on the First Division trophy and look nicely priced at 4-5 with Coral and Ladbrokes to win at Stirling - but they will be minus new striker Kenny Deuchar.

Queen of the South should take care of Albion Rovers at home but are just 1-2 with William Hill. Ross County are expected to go well again in Division One and the Scottish Cup runners-up are 1-2 with Paddy Power to win at Highland rivals Elgin who have a goalkeeping crisis.

It probably won't pay to back all the favourites and anyone doing big accers should be wary.

ere are bound to be one or two shocks and the biggest could come at Firhill where Partick istle entertain old rivals Clyde.

Two divisions now separate the sides but only one has been doing business in the summer. Clyde are being backed for ird Division glory after ringing the changes and could shock a istle side who haven't nalised their squad for the new season.

Losing keeper Jon Tu ey to Inverness was a massive blow and I'll be risking a couple of quid on Clyde at 7-1 with Bet365 and Chandler. istle are 4-9 (888sport).

Livingston beat Queen's Park ve times last season and are 8-13 with William Hill to do so again today.

ere is one game tomorrow and Morton should go to Dumbarton and win. Allan Moore's men are 11-10 at Paddy Power.

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LEIGH HIM OUT: Dundee will open their season without Griffiths, right

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 24, 2010
Words:565
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