Academy will treat far north derby like a cup final, says Manson
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Wick Academy travel to take on their old rivals Brora Rangers on Saturday in what could be the last far north derby for the foreseeable future if the Cattachs end their campaign on a high.
The Dudgeon Park side are near certainties to lift the Highland League title – and, should they go on to win the end-of-season SPFL play-offs, Wick can scratch the derby from next season's diary.
Play-off success would mean Brora playing in League Two of the SPFL next term, with Academy's nearest Highland League rivals being Clachnacuddin in Inverness – too much of a push to build up as a "derby".
Academy joint manager Gary Manson says the Scorries will be treating the game like a cup final.
"I've not really thought about this potentially being the last derby for a while. It could be, but that's not our concern.
"We're not concerned with what might happen to Brora this summer – all we know is that there is a derby this weekend and it's our cup final.
"They are always big games and we've not beaten them in the league for some time [3-0 at Harmsworth Park in December 2012].
"Even though I played in that game, I don't remember too much about it."
Meanwhile, a very familiar face was back in training for Academy this week.
Michael "Joe" Steven has not been seen around the club following his decision, after a "discussion" with the previous management team, to take a break from football.
However, the tough-tackling defender won't be making an immediate return to the team.
"Joe was back with us in training this week which was good to see," Manson said. "However, he won't be returning to action this week as he is in the process of getting up to speed with the rest of the guys.
"We do hope to see him back in the first team before the end of the season, though. He has looked good so far.
"Joe is naturally fit but even he himself must be surprised at how fit he actually is. It's a bit early to throw him into action straight away, but maybe soon.
"Regarding Marc Macgregor, I mentioned last week that we're not rushing him to return before the end of the season.
"We're not competing for any cups or titles so our main aim is getting him ready for next season."
Manson also revealed that the futures of Academy's out-of-contract players could well be sorted out shortly.
He said: "I'm led to believe that contract talks are progressing quite well and we hope to have some news on this soon."