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Gary Irvine praises ‘unbelievable commitment’ from part-time Forfar players ahead of midweek play-off trek to Annan

Forfar player-manager Gary Irvine
Forfar player-manager Gary Irvine

Gary Irvine has hailed the ‘unbelievable commitment’ shown by his part-time Forfar squad ahead of their League One play-off push.

A 0-0 draw against Stenhousemuir at the weekend secured the Loons second place, setting up a home tie in their deciding play-off leg against Annan on Saturday.

But first, though, his men will have to take the long road south to Galabank, near the English border.

Irvine appreciates the Tuesday night trip isn’t ideal with many of his players putting a full shift in at work hours prior to the 7.45pm kick off.

Hard day’s work before the game

The Forfar boss will himself have to put in a few hours of graft before turning his full attentions to the clash.

“It will be a different week to what we normally work to,” Irvine told Courier Sport.

“I’m in a fortunate position where my work is flexible with the family business we run.

“But it is difficult for the play-offs in the midweek games for any part-time player in the division.

Forfar boss Gary Irvine on the touchline.
Forfar boss Gary Irvine on the touchline.

“It’s a change in the schedule and it’s not ideal for them.

“That gets over-looked sometimes; the commitment from a part-time player is unbelievable really.

“The fact they can balance a job and then come and compete at a very good level in football.

“Part-time players deserve a lot of praise and I give that to my own players.

“I appreciate the effort and the commitment they give to me.”

Selection headache

Meanwhile, Irvine admits he will have a selection headache ahead of Tuesday’s game.

Forfar welcomed the return of Steven Anderson after months out with a shoulder injury.

The veteran defender is available but Irvine has been impressed by the centre back partnership of Darren Whyte and Sam Fisher.

“Sam Fisher has done brilliantly since he has come into the team,” he said.

Steven Anderson is back from injury
Steven Anderson is back from injury

“Darren Whyte has progressed and gotten stronger as the season has gone on.

“But still, it is nice to see Steven – who has worked so hard with his rehab – back in action. He’s available, which is a great boost for us, especially when Andy [Munro] is out.

“It’s nice to see that we have strength in depth when it is required.

“All of which gives me headaches when I come to pick the team and planning games.

“I have 21-22 bodies to choose from and they have all played a massive part throughout the season.

“It’s a headache but a good headache. All in all, it’s a good position to be in.”

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