It might be an exaggeration to say Pollok have a defensive crisis on their hands that threatens to scupper their WoSFL Premier Division title aspirations …but it’s not much of one.

Not when your thoughts on the issue take into consideration this week’s bold swoop by the Southsiders team boss Murdie McKinnon to snap up one-time Rangers Youths prospect David Brownlie from Linlithgow Rose - with the intention of plunging the 24-year-old centre-back straight into today’s crunch clash with title rivals Darvel.

A quite astonishing state of affairs given that a mere matter of eight weeks have elapsed since the ambitious Glasgow outfit started out  this 2021/22 season with a veritable multitude of central defender riches on their books in the shape of Bryan Wharton, Grant Evans, David Barron Kyle Bradley and best of all skipper Paul Gallagher.

However, work commitments have forestalled any participation whatsoever by ex-St Mirren ace Barron while an unfortunate run of injuries over the past month has sidelined the vastly experienced trio of Wharton, Evans and Gallagher to leave Bradley, formerly of Rangers and Clyde, as the only specialist stopper inside the Newlandsfield dressing room.

And it would be amiss not to say the 22-year-old has found adapting to this level of the game to be anything but plain-sailing up to now: a view clearly shared by Lok gaffer McKinnon, who unashamedly plumped for a makeshift pairing of full-back Mark Sideserf and midfielder Ryan McGregor at the heart of his backline for Pollok’s last two outings -  a 1-1 draw against Largs Thistle followed  by a 7-0 demolition of Maybole.

Murdie explained: “David Brownlie is someone we have kept tabs on during his spells with Stranraer, Airdrie and both East Kilbride and Linlithgow in the Lowland League.

“He is a solid defensive type yet good coming out with the ball and crucially is a good talker as well as a leader out on the pitch which we have been crying out for in Gal’s absence.

“We are still awaiting a scan to learn the full extent of his knee damage but at best you are still talking about a couple of months before he could  be in contention for a jersey, so David’s signing really was a no-brainer. 

“Ryan and Sidey have played really well together and I’d have no hesitation in continuing with their partnership, but bringing David on board allows them to revert to their more familiar roles in the team.”

Word on the Lok team front reckons prolific midfield goalscorer Shaun Fraser is available for selection again after missing out on his side’s last two games with a thigh strain and there remains an outside chance of Wharton and Evans both passing muster.

“A decision on whether they can be included in our plans will go right to the wire on Saturday," revealed the Lok gaffer last night.

“It’s a massive boost to have both on the way back but throwing them in too early might be to their detriment in the long run and that’s a risk I do not want to take for their sakes or for the rest of the guys.”  

McKinnon’s transfer dealings over the past few days also included the offloading of close season signing Alex McWaters, who has put pen to paper for the new Kilbirnie Ladeside co-management team of Tommy Molloy and Shaun Dillon.

Murdie added: "I can fully understand Alex wanting to go there as his Pollok appearances were severely limited by having to compete for a starting jersey with Chris Duff, Danny McKenzie and Sideserf.

“He’s a Greenock lad as are Tommy and Shaun whom I’ve no doubt will get the best out of him.”

Meanwhile, unassuming Darvel boss Mick Kennedy is looking forward to his first-ever visit to Newlandsfield - even though his own selection plans continue to be similarly ravaged by a catalogue of injuries.

Definite non-starters are the highly rated ex-Senior trio of Craig Moore, David Galt and Jordan Kilpatrick along with tenacious midfield battler Willie Robertson and experienced defender Cammy Eadie, whose knee injury sustained in a recent outing against Irvine Meadow is thought to cartilage damage.

Kennedy said: “We’ve not had our troubles to seek but just about every team is in the same boat after the hectic start to the season, of playing so many games in a short space of time.

“And having watched Pollok in action, I would say they are similarly like ourselves in having dropped points in games they should and could have won but for missing all manner of clear-cut scoring opportunities.

“Murdie and his players will be kicking themselves for only taking one point from their recent outings against Cumnock and Largs while I wasn’t best chuffed at having to settle for draws in our last two games."

He added: “This drought won’t last  for much longer - not with our teams containing forward types with an eye for a goal, so you could have a classic tomorrow with both teams going for it.”

In top-flight contests elsewhere, league leaders Auchinleck Talbot are strongly fancied to make home advantage tell against Cumbernauld United and keep their noses in front of second placed Clydebank, on the road to face bottom markers Bonnyton Thistle, while looking a good bet to hold onto third top place are Kilwinning Rangers, hosting the visit of Largs Thistle.

Glenafton are preparing to unveil latest signing, ex-Albion Rovers midfielder Greg Fotheringham, for the trip through to take on fellow basement strugglers Blantyre Vics while Hurlford United have an idle Saturday because intended opponents Irvine Meadow are taking on Musselburgh Athletic in the preliminary round of the Scottish Cup proper. 

In the Conference League stakes, A Division leaders Arthurlie’s game away to  Bellshill Athletic being postponed because of a Covid outbreak at the hosts could see the Barrhead outfit relinquish top spot to nearest challengers Shotts Bon Accord, who are up against struggling Lugar Boswell.

And a cracking B Division head-to-head is in prospect with Gartcairn awaiting the visit of leading lights Cambuslang Rangers, whose attack is spearheaded by scoring sensation  Stuart Williamson who has 21 goals to his name in 10 games up to now.

PLAYING TODAY: (Kick Offs 2PM unless stated)

P.D.M.Buildbase Premier Division

Benburb v Cumnock, Rob Roy v  Rossvale, Kilwinning Rangers v Largs Thistle, Kilbirnie Ladeside v Rutherglen Glencairn, Bonnyton Thistle v Clydebank,Pollok v Darvel,Troon v Beith,  Auchinleck Talbot v Cumbernauld Utd, Blantyre Vics v Glenafton.PDM Buildbase Conference League A.Johnstone Burgh v Forth Wanderers, Lugar Boswell v Shotts Bon Accord, Craigmark v Maybole, Whitletts Vics v Glasgow University, Maryhill v Irvine Vics, Muirkirk v Saltcoats Vics.

PDM Buildbase Conference League B.

Renfrew v Ardeer Thistle, Gartcairn v Cambuslang Rangers, Thorniewood Utd v Glasgow Utd, Newmains Utd v Dalry Thistle, Carluke Rovers v Greenock, Royal Albert v Ashfield, Kello Rovers v St Cadocs.

PDM Buildbase Conference League C.

Drumchapel Utd  v Vale of Clyde, Glasgow Perthshire v St Rochs, Kilsyth Rangers v Ardrossan Winton Rovers, Yoker Athletic v Neilston, Larkhall Thistle v Vale of Leven, Petershill  v East Kilbride Thistle, St Anthonys v Lanark Utd.

PDM Buildbase Division Four.

BSC Glasgow v Harmony Row, Glenvale v Finnart, Kilsyth Athletic v Harthill Royal,  Campbeltown Pupils v St Peters.