sfarrell1617IT IS six weeks until Stranraer kick off the new campaign but already the countdown to the first game of the season is under way.

The Blues start back at pre-season training next weekend, and found out their opposition for the group stage of the Betfred Cup last night (Friday).

Stranraer will take on Partick Thistle, St Mirren, Airdrieonians and Livingston before attentions turn to the league itself.

Manager Stevie Farrell said: "It's tough.

"We are in against four full time clubs and that is a challenge for us to test ourselves.

"It will give us a marker to see where we are against Airdrie, Championship sides and a Premiership side."

Details are yet to be confirmed about when and where Stranraer will take on the four rivals in group H but the opening fixture of the season will take place on July 15.

Away from the fixtures, Farrell has enjoyed a busy close season, bringing in five players and saying goodbye to eight.
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Probably the most high-profile signing was that of Jamie Hamill, who spent last season with Dumfries and Galloway neighbours Queen of the South.

Farrell said: "He was one of the first players we spoke to.

"He had taken the decision to leave full time football to come part-time and we had a good chat and I liked what I heard.

"I liked his determination and I knew him from being against him with Dumbarton when he was at Queen of the South.

"I think he will be a fantastic addition both on and off the park.

"He was captain at Hearts and at Kilmarnock and they held him in high regard.

"For Stranraer to get a player of that ilk with 220-230 games in the top flight - and only being 30, he has got another four or five years in him at a decent level with that experience - is a fantastic coup."
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Hamill became the club's fifth signing of the close season, following in the footsteps of striker Ryan Wallace and defender Morgyn Neill.

Paul Woods, who featured for Queen's Park last campaign, and young centre back Tom Lang, who played under Farrell at Dumbarton, make up the other signings, with the manager not quite done adding to his squad.

He is keen to add potentially three more attacking players, with talks still ongoing with Amadou Kassaraté about a permanent return to the club, while Calvin Kemp is expected to return for pre-season in a bid to win a deal.

Finally, the manager is aiming to sign up Liam Dick for another season.
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He said: "Liam has been on holiday but I have spoken to his agent and I'm confident we will sign him."

Off the field, there has been another important signing.
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Stuart Millar has returned to the club after an 11 year absence having been a key component as the Blues rose to the First Division (now Championship).

Millar was Neil Watt's assistant on that occasion but this time will be head of player recruitment and scouting.

Farrell was delighted to link up with Millar again, having worked alongside him at Dumbarton.

He said: "I was keen to bring him in.

"His match analysis and what he provided was second to none on opponents."

SPFL 3L1 6474

1 Arbroath 6 14
2 Raith Rovers 6 12
3 Airdrieonians 6 9
4 Brechin City 6 8
5 Stranraer 6 8
6 Dumbarton 6 7
7 East Fife 6 7
8 Forfar Athletic 6
9 Stenhousemuir 6 6
10 Montrose 6 6


2018/19 Squad

1 - Max Currie (GK)
2 - Daniel Higgins (DEF)

3 - Chris McGowan (DEF)
4 - Andrew McDonald (DEF)
5 - David Brownlie (DEF)
6 - Connor McManus (MID)
7 - Mark Lamont (MID)
8 - Kyle Turner (MID)
9 - Isaac Layne (STR)

10 - Luke Donnelly (STR)
11 - Grant Anderson (M/S)
12 - Ian Smith (MID)

13 - Lyle Avci (GK)
14 - Cameron Elliott (MID)
16 - Max Ashmore (MID)
17 - David Smith (D/M)
18 - Innes Cameron (STR)
19 - Ciaran Diver (STR)

22 - Jamie Hamill (DEF)
23 - Adam Cummins (DEF)