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Young Staggies prepare for the Bellslea acid test; ? Boss Brittain thinks Broch side will provide formidable experience for County Colts.

Byline: ANDY SKINNER

Ross County Colts manager Richie Brittain feels that Fraserburgh will provide his young side with a stern physical test in tonight's Tunnock's Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup tie at Bellslea.

County travel to face a Broch side full of confidence after a 2-1 win at Formartine United on Saturday.

Brittain, who had a yearlong stint in the Highland League as player-manager of Brora Rangers in 2015-16, expects Mark Cowie's side to be formidable opposition.

He said: "It will be a great experience for the younger players, going up against experienced professionals who have played a lot of games at a good level.

"They will be playing in front of a crowd at quite an intimidating Highland League ground, where Fraserburgh are strong.

"We'll be going there with a team of 16 and 17-yearolds playing against men. It will be great experience for them to come up against that physicality. If you're going to come up against a team in the Highland League, you'd probably say Fraserburgh are the number one team for that.

"That's no disrespect to them, they are a good side and the manager has got them playing really well. They are strong on their own patch so it will be tough, but we have been drilling into the young players that part and parcel of the game in Scotland is the physical battle.

"It is something they don't get exposed to that much in the reserve league, because a lot of teams like to play that expansive, possession type of football you see.

"When you ultimately go into first teams, though, the physical side of it is more prevalent."

Brittain is pleased with the side he has assembled this term, with six teenagers signing their first full-time contracts at Victoria Park earlier in the summer.

The Staggies will continue to play in the SPFL reserve league despite a number of teams opting to withdraw, and Brittain added: "We've got a longterm plan at the football club, and if we stick to that it means there's not an awful lot of change at the start of every season.

"We let players go at the end of last season who we thought would benefit from football elsewhere, and brought a new batch of under-18 modern apprentices in who seem to be settling in really well."

Fraserburgh are boosted by the return of midfielder Michael Rae. The 31-yearold had retired from football at the end of last term but has decided to help his old club outwith several players missing due to injury.

After playing in Saturday's win at Formartine, Rae said: "I will definitely be available for the cup tie. It depends on whether our manager Mark Cowie picks me.

"I expect he may make a few changes after Saturday's hard-earned 2-1 win at Formartine United.

"Despite all those injuries I still think we have a very good squad and hopefully we can give the young Dingwall side a run for their money."

Rae added: "My wife Nadine is due to have a baby in two weeks' time so things have taken a different priority. I will take a couple of weeks out around about that time and see how we go.

"I'm also expecting to go into hospital in a few weeks' time to have an operation on my medial ligaments so I will definitely be out of action for a few months after that."

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Press and Journal (Aberdeen,Scotland)
Date:Aug 6, 2019
Words:585
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