Dale Gillespie says Betfred League Cup draw with Hibernian, Dundee, Cove Rangers and Forfar Athletic was the toughest Brora Rangers could have been given
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MIDFIELDER Dale Gillespie says the Betfred League Cup draw could not have made it any harder for Brora Rangers to qualify from the group stages.
The Highland League champions will kick off the campaign with a trip to Easter Road to face high -flying Premiership outfit Hibernian on Wednesday, October 7.
They will then play their next two games at Dudgeon Park, starting with Championship outfit Dundee on Saturday, October 10 followed by League One outfit Cove Rangers on Tuesday, October 13.
Brora Rangers will conclude their campaign travelling to League One club Forfar Athletic on Tuesday, November 10.
Gillespie (31) says it is the toughest draw they could have possibly faced but is looking forward to the challenge.
“I don’t think it could have been any harder,” he said.
“It is something to look forward to after not playing for so long, but it is going to be difficult for us.
“The fact our first game is away to Hibs during midweek shows things will be stacked against us. Obviously we will back in training for a month in the run up to the game.
“But Hibs will have played for two months which will make it harder for us.”
Existing Scottish Government guidelines will allow fans back into football stadiums on September 14 and Gillespie hopes that will be the case when the League Cup starts, saying it will make it a better occasion for fans and players.
“Chances are it will be one of the first games Hibs will be allowed to get fans back into the ground so that might increase the number of people who would usually go to watch us.
“It won’t make the game any easier, but it will make the experience better if there is a crowd in there.”
Gillespie says the team have not set a target for the number of points they are looking to pick up in the competition. He said any positive result against teams of the calibre of their opponents would be good.
“When you are in this competition you are maybe looking to face a League Two team,” he said.
“Any points that we can get would be a bonus for us.”
"Cove Rangers won League Two by a considerable distance and if you look at their team now compared to when they were in the Highland League, they’ve signed four or five players that have really improved them.
“There is probably a bigger gulf between Cove and Brora than there was in the Highland League.
“But we won’t know that until we play them and we will give it our best shot.
“Some teams might look at us as a pre-season match and rotate their squad which could give us a better chance.
“We are not going into these matches to lose, we will try and win them all.
“But any point would be a bonus.”
Brora Rangers will face Elgin City in a pre-season friendly on Saturday, September 19.
But there is no announcement as to when the Highland League 2020/21 campaign will begin.
Gillespie says while other clubs are waiting to find if there will be a Highland League season, Brora are grateful to know they have four League Cup matches which will help them prepare for their title defence.
“There is no official word from the Highland League, but the League Cup will help give us a good start by playing against high-level competition,” he said.
“Although the games are difficult, it will benefit us for the Highland League, which at the end of the day is our main priority.”