CONSISTENCY is the aim for Sauchie Juniors this season as they hope to challenge at the top end of the league.

The Reds finished second only to Linlithgow Rose last term, and pushed on to the final of the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup, losing out to University of Stirling.

Manager Fraser Duncan stressed the importance of taking each game as it comes and trying to put points on the board early.

"People really underestimate this league," Duncan told Advertiser Sport. "It's a very challenging league; anyone can beat anybody on their day.

"I know how football can go – seasons can turn very quickly, a couple injuries and you can fall away, and a few bad results could mean you're out the running straight away.

"All I've said to the boys is that we've got a good squad here, we've added some competition and a bit more quality.

"We just want to push now," he continued. "The aim for this year is put as many points on the board as early as we can and hit consistency levels like we did last year.

"Consistency is the hardest part to get but we'll work hard for it."

Sauchie have started their summer business early and have already sent a number of players out on loan to various clubs.

Kieran McMahon, Jack Fisher and Campbell Tully formed a trio who are all on loan at Rosyth, whilst Cameron Jackson will have a spell at Dunipace.

Duncan added: "We've decided that a couple boys from the under 20s team need another year of development before coming up to our team.

"It's a big season for us at the minute so it can be quite hard for us to breathe young players into the team when we're pushing for the title.

"We've sent a few to Rosyth, we've had a couple go to amateur teams. It'll be good for them, these guys are going to get game time under their belt and they still train with us as well.

"It's good for us as a club to know that we've got a good group of youngsters coming through that we can rely on later on."

In terms of signings, Duncan teased he was working hard behind the scenes to secure the signature of one more player.

PRE-SEASON: Fraser Duncan is hopeful to get one more signing over the line before the league starts. Picture by Scott Barron

PRE-SEASON: Fraser Duncan is hopeful to get one more signing over the line before the league starts. Picture by Scott Barron

The gaffer went on to explain he was hopeful of signing one more, but said it would be ideal if he managed to grab two overall.

"We're still confident that we can bring one more in," he said. "We're looking at one at the moment and we're working hard to try and get it over the line.

"We've got 19 at the moment, but ideally, I'd like to start with a squad of around 20, 21 players.

"If we can get one over the line, maybe we can look to bring two new faces in the door. We'll just see what happens and see how things go."

Sauchie have played in several pre-season friendlies as they step up preparations for the new season.

Duncan explained he picked challenging games against Rosyth, Drumchapel and St Cadoc's in order to test his players and see the areas needing strengthened.

He added: "We've had a few pre-season games already, we picked challenging games and hard grounds to go to.

"We had Drumchapel, which was a difficult place to go to but I think we did well, we controlled the game well.

"We played St Cadoc's which was a different game altogether – they kept the ball a lot and we had to defend a lot more which tested us.

"We need to be able to take our chances and shut up shop at the back a fair bit.

"They've been great, challenging games and I'm looking forward to the Sauchie Cup this Saturday.

"We've got about four, five hours of football for people to come down and watch and enjoy. This will be the last few minutes for the players before the league starts."

The Reds are in action this Saturday in the Sauchie Cup, held in thanks to Noel Dalli and Hamish Mitchell.

Entry is £5 and a full day of football is promised with fans able to head down and watch from 11.30am.