CAMBUSLANG Rangers ace John Gemmell is somebody you would rather be playing with than against.

So says manager Paul McColl of the man they call “The Beast” ahead of the new Premiership set-up today when the Lang lock horns with Rob Roy in an opening-day clash.

Junior followers will recall the feted ex-Albion Rovers and Stenhousemuir hitman having previously played in the West Region top flight with Hurlford United however he was certainly not the striking asset back then that he has shown himself to be at Somervell Park under McColl’s tutelage.

The Lang boss said: "If the big man is not scoring then he’s putting himself about and upsetting defences and I think he’s been outstanding for us since coming on board last season.

“We have smaller and quicker types in Calum McRobbie and Scott Davidson who undoubtedly profit from John taking the weight off them and I believe he’s one of a kind in the Junior game at the current time.

“I know Rob Roy have Willie Sawyers who is very good backing into opponents and is a regular scorer but he lacks John’s sheer presence which tends to intimidate defenders because there are very few ever want to get involved with him in a physical sense – and no wonder.”

McColl is mulling over his striking options for facing the Rabs after latest forward signing Jason Thomson weighed in with four goals from a couple of Sectional League Cup appearances.

He said: “Jason is the brother of our goalkeeper Sandy Thomson and previously played under myself and John McKeown at Wishaw so I turned to him when we had five front players posted missing for our opener against Thorniewood United and he duly netted a hat trick.

“He also scored again coming off the bench in our 3-1 victory over Bellshill Athletic in midweek and his impressive shooting form has given me plenty of food for thought heading into tomorrow’s game.

“Another of our newcomers, left-back Lewis Kinnaird, has looked the part and our team is taking shape with the steadying influence of Mark Staunton and Kevin Green supplemented by the match-winning capabilities of Jordan Morton and winger Chris Duff who will doubtless be fired up to do well against his old team-mates.

“I feel on edge and more anxious than normal but that’s probably because Cambuslang Rangers have waited a long time to get back in the top league and I desperately want them to do well.”

Rob Roy’s weakened state, injured quartet Gavin Mackie, Gary Carroll, Danny O’Halloran and skipper Scott Walker are looking non-starters, will approach the head to head in decent fettle after winning 3-1 away to St Roch's on Wednesday night.

And boss Stewart Maxwell revealed: “Out of adversity you sometimes come up with an opportunity to try things and that was certainly the case on Wednesday when injuries forced us to play John Sweeney in central defence and he was absolutely magnificent.

“John would be first to admit he’s had a bit of a nomadic experience in recent seasons and I was hoping he could settle down at Rob Roy and perform to his best again but not for one minute did I think it would be in central defence.

“He did everything asked of him – won tackles, competed aerially and showed leadership qualities – but what really caught the eye was his composure on the ball coming out of defence and we may just have hit on a gem.”

Maxi was also delighted with the displays of new signings David Waters, Martin McBride and Jordan McLean but is warning them to expect a stiffer test of their qualities from one of his former clubs.

He added: “I enjoyed four seasons there so I’m looking forward to going back and facing my old team for the first time since playing under Andy Cunningham and Peter Millar.

“I have actually gone back to Somervell as a Rob Roy manager but it was to play a Cup Final against Shettleston where we came out on top so I’m keeping fingers crossed that my old stomping ground can be a lucky omen for me again.

“It will be a tough 90 minutes because Paul has signed a lot of good players and his team will doubly dangerous in being fired up to do well on their return to the top of the Junior tree but if my players can show more of the same character that saw us bounce back against St Roch's then we will do well.

"Rob Roy’s former player Chris Duff has apparently been outstanding in their games up to now but our own Lee Gallagher is doing it for us so supporters might be in for some old-fashioned wing play at its best.”

In other Premiership encounters, champions Beith will begin the defence of their crown away to promoted Troon and it doesn’t get any easier for the other teams to have made the step up with Renfrew hosting Pollok and Largs Thistle awaiting the visit of Auchinleck Talbot.