Less than a month on from the Island Games in Åland, Shetland’s footballers will be back in action on Saturday against their nearest and dearest rivals Orkney in the annual inter-county clash.
The game is at Gilbertson Park at 6pm and manager John Jamieson is expecting a “very, very close” match against the Orcadians, who did not send a team out to Åland but have shown decent form in the run-up including a 2-0 friendly victory over Wick Academy.
Jamieson has whittled down his 20-strong island games pool to a squad of 16 players, with Duncan Bray unavailable, Whitedale’s Duncan Anderson a late injury call-off and Delting’s young forward Fraser Hall and Celtic’s Joe Leask missing out on this occasion.
Better news on the fitness front is the return of centre-back Richard Arthur, who was only able to play for 15 minutes out in Åland due to a hamstring problem, and the manager is expected to name a similar side to the one that started against Menorca – though Unst’s Erik Thomson is a likely candidate to be promoted to the starting XI after his impressive performance and hat trick in the final game victory against Saaremaa.
Jamieson’s first taste of the Island Games as a manager has whetted his appetite for more and he fully intends to stay as manager for the Isle of Wight in 2011.
“It’s definitely the competition you want to be involved in,” he said. “It’s what everybody should be wanting to be involved in, as high a standard as there possibly can be for Shetland.”
Looking ahead to the match, an annual fixture which Jamieson believes will always be the most important in the Shetland football calendar, he said he expected it to be a tough contest.
He said: “I watched the inter-county last year [which Shetland won 2-1] as a supporter and I thought Orkney had as much of the game as Shetland had, maybe on another day they might have gotten a result so I’m expecting a very, very close game.”
Possible Shetland line-up to play Orkney: Erik Peterson (Ness); Gary Jamieson (Whalsay), Ross Moncrieff (Celtic), captain Merv Jamieson (Delting), Richard Arthur (Whalsay), Leighton Flaws (Delting), Karl Williamson (Whalsay), Alan Duncan (Delting), James Johnston (Spurs), Ross MacDougal (Delting), Erik Thomson (Unst).
Subs: Craig Dinwoodie (Delting), Lewis Kay (Spurs), Peter Peterson (Delting), Josie Kay (Spurs), Craig Gerty (Thistle).
For full interview, see Friday’s Shetland Times.