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Injuries mount up for Newtonmore ahead of new league season

By Gavin Musgrove

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Newtonmore are sweating on the fitness of international defender Steven MacDonald (left) ahead of next weekend's start to the shinty season.
Newtonmore are sweating on the fitness of international defender Steven MacDonald (left) ahead of next weekend's start to the shinty season.

Newtonmore are facing a major injury crisis ahead of the throw-up of the new regional shinty leagues in just over a week's time.

The Blue and Whites are currently without 10 players who would normally be contesting first-team places.

The irony has not been lost on manager Orsten Gardner after nearly 15 months without top-flight games.

The first friendlies were played last week by both Badenoch giants.

Newtonmore suffered a 5-1 home loss to Fort William on Thursday evening (May 20) with Gardner putting his hand up for the defeat.

The manager said he had been keen to experiment with players out of their usual position as he looks at his options.

The Eilan side then bounced back with a 7-1 thumping of Glenurquhart at the weekend at the Eilan.

The Kings were also in action last Saturday, strolling to a 3-0 lead before Fort William gave them a late scare.

Gardner said: “I take full responsibility for the Fort William defeat. We had around 24 players take to the field and I put some of them into unfamiliar positions.

“There were young second team players also brought into the fold.

But on Saturday against Glenurquhart we were a lot better and a lot sharper, and obviously benefited from the game two days earlier.”

Gardner said the club was “hammered” with injuries just now including to some influential players.

He listed some of the casualties: “Steven MacDonald is out with a hamstring injury; we have lost Craig Ritchie to a sore knee; Owen Fraser done his shoulder on Saturday; Aaron MacBean has split his head so he had to come off. Chris Sellar also broke his hand against Fort William, and I’m not sure he will be back. He’s a special player and will be a big loss if not. Connor Jones tore his hamstring on Saturday as well.

“We have another player having to self-isolate.

“I think we are down 10 players from last season, so it is not an easy time for the club.”

Gardner is hoping that some first-team regulars including MacDonald will be back, but he is uncertain on others.

“Craig is still a worry and he is very good shinty player.”

But looking on the positive side, Gardner who has said he will give youth a chance, has said that it is an opportunity for some of the squad's promising youngsters to step up the plate.

Fixures: June 5

Mowi Senior League B round one fixtures: Beauly v Newtonmore (John Angus Gillies); Kingussie v Lovat (Calum Girvan); Strathglass v Caberfeidh (Iain Kennedy)

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