Preview: Forfar Athletic vs Airdrieonians
August 4, 2017
Andy Ryan says Airdrie are ready to face a Forfar side with a point to prove, but confidence is high in the Diamonds camp.
The 22-year-old striker is looking forward to Saturday's league kick-off at Station Park, and he thinks a tough Betfred Cup group was the ideal preparation.
"I think we used the games well, I don't think many people gave us a chance of qualifying but - barring the St Mirren game - I think we gave a good account of ourselves and the extra fitness we've gained will serve us well going in to the league campaign."
With last season's promotion hopes dashed in a play-off semi-final penalty shoot-out, Ryan is quietly confident of a successful campaign this time round.
"We just need to take it one game at a time. We don't want to get too ahead of ourselves.
"We've got a young squad, but we go in to each game confident in our ability."
The Diamonds visit Forfar to face a newly-promoted Loons side who have a few familiar faces in their squad.
Former Airdrie manager Gary Bollan snapped up Jamie Bain, David Cox and Jim Lister after their spells at New Broomfield ended, and Simon Mensing has become the latest ex-Diamond to head for Angus.
Ryan himself is well known to the Station Park fans after a brief spell there before his move to Airdrie.
"I enjoyed my time up there. I went there after a bad injury, and I was lucky enough that they gave me the opportunity to get a run of games.
"I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though it didn't end the way I'd have liked with relegation. It's a great club and there's great people there."
Having spent a year in League Two since Ryan's departure there have been a number of changes in the Athletic squad, but Andy knows what to expect from them.
"Just like any other team in the league we know it'll be a difficult game. Up there on the first day of the season, they'll be up for it.
"They may feel they have a point to prove after going down on the last day of the season so I think they'll come out all guns blazing, and we need to be ready for it."
While Forfar were securing their return to League One, Ryan was lighting it up with a 27-goal haul which made him the top scorer in Scotland.
Speculation has been rife regarding a big move for the prolific hitman, but Chucky shrugs it off.
"It hasn't really affected me. Obviously coming off the back of a good season there's always going to be rumours flying around, but I'm just getting on with my football.
"Whatever strip I pull over my head I go out and give 100% for that team - and right now that means trying to score as many goals as I can for Airdrie."
Coach Donald Jennow expects a difficult opener for the Diamonds.
"They'll be physical and they'll be aggressive. Obviously we know a fair number of their players, so it'll be a tough task.
"Going up there is never an easy place to go, so we need to make sure we're right at it if we want to compete and get a good result."
Sean McIntosh is suspended for Airdrie following an accumulation of yellow cards at the end of last season. Marc Fitzpatrick remains sidelined with a leg injury.
Referee Steven Reid is the man in the middle for the league season opener.