Prospective Scorrie talent could resist lure of Brora, says McKenna
Wick Academy boss Tom McKenna says the prospect of derby rivals Brora Rangers going up to the Scottish Professional Football League may not hamper the Scorries' chances of getting the best young talent in Caithness.
Academy host Huntly in a Highland League fixture this weekend while Brora will travel to Strathspey looking to take a further step towards both the title and the SPFL play-offs.
Should the Cattachs be crowned league champions and go on to win promotion to the fourth tier of the SPFL through the play-offs, the far north will have its first Scottish League club.
With SPFL status, Brora would be an enticing prospect for any promising young footballer looking to start their career.
Academy have long relied on young, local talent to nurture through the ranks and eventually become first-team regulars. But, should a Highland League rival nearby be upgraded to an SPFL one, would access to the Caithness's best and brightest be hampered?
McKenna said: "That sort of scenario could go one or two ways. Either there will no change or Brora becoming an SPFL team could work against us in terms of recruitment.
"Personally, I think a lot of factors could come into the thought process of any player in evaluating any offer that Brora could present them.
"Depending on who is in [SPFL] League Two next season, should Brora get there, there will be much more travelling time and longer distances involved for away fixtures.
You'll be snapped up by an SPFL club anyway after two years playing with us.
"There will be more trips to the central belt and beyond that, which will mean a lot more time for any prospective player from our area to consider.
"I don't know if Brora still do it but they have trained down at Inverness and those sessions could involve more time and travel too.
"Of course, all of this depends what kind of money Brora would throw at any young prospect on our patch that they might be interested in.
"What I will say that, for us, our travelling distances and time will still be as they are now. And if any young player in Caithness is really that good, you'll be snapped up by an SPFL club anyway after two years playing with us – but you'll have some good playing experience under your belt."
Huntly on Saturday will be McKenna's more immediate concern as he seeks to erase the nightmare display that led to Academy being knocked out of the Highland League Cup in November by the Black and Golds.
"In terms of league position and points difference, on paper, this would seem to be one that we could get three points from," McKenna said.
"However, regardless of how Huntly are doing, they are a team that stick to you like glue and even if you beat them, you'll know that you've been in a tough game.
"We didn't perform when they were last up for that cup tie and they are a very difficult side to play against.
"They are the most physical team in the league – and that's in a positive sense – and they play with a direct style. Huntly get in your face and don't allow you time to settle on the ball.
"We don't have the personnel to match them physically so we have to be expansive, use the ball quickly and keep it on the deck."
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