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  ALBION ROVERS vs Airdrieonians 4th November 2016  
 
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Mark Wilson can't wait to get started as Airdrie face local rivals Albion Rovers, and the new head coach has his sights set on a title challenge.

Former Dundee Utd and Celtic man Wilson took charge on Monday, and the 32-year-old has enjoyed his first week.

"It's been great. When you come to any club as a player or a coach, you want to get onside with the people who are here already, and that's what this week has been about.

"We've raised the tempo a bit and it’s been a great week’s training, so I can’t complain. I’ve loved it so far and everyone’s reacted in a positive way."

"Initial impressions of the squad have been very good. I've watched five or six of their games, and I already knew some of the players - I played with Ryan Conroy in his younger days at Celtic and I've come up against Iain Russell and Marc Fitzpatrick numerous times.

"These guys haven't let me down - they've been leaders on the training pitch. The younger ones look to have great potential, and I hope I can pass on my experience and what I’ve picked up in the game to them.

"It’s a squad of good young players, and it’s now about getting them to progress."

Back-to-back wins over Queen's Park and East Fife have seen the Diamonds jump to fourth place in the League One table, and despite a stuttering start to the campaign, only seven points separate Airdrie from the top spot.

Wilson wants to see his new side mount a challenge.

"We’re a full time club in League One so we’ve got to realise that we’re fortunate in that respect.

"We have to be realistic and say that we’ve got a good enough squad to be up there challenging, we’re only seven points behind just now and there’s a long way to go and a lot of points to be played for.

"I truly believe that we’ve got the squad and the facilities to challenge."

Mark's reign begins on Saturday, and there are sure to be fireworks as the Diamonds make the short trip to Cliftonhill to face Monklands rivals Albion Rovers.

With such a short time to prepare, the new gaffer has been quick to praise Donald Jennow's assistance.

"We’ve been chatting all week about the team and about the opposition, Donald’s been giving me the lowdown on the players so we’ll use that information to come up with the squad for Saturday.

"A win is massively important. First and foremost we want to keep on this winning run and keep the momentum going, but then you add in the fact that it’s a derby.

"It doesn’t matter what league it’s in or what level you’re playing at, a derby’s a derby and in these games it’s hugely important to start well. We’ll be looking to do that on Saturday.

"The fans will play their part and there will be a good travelling support there – albeit only ten minutes down the road.

"It’ll be a great occasion, everybody loves playing in these games. We’re hoping for a positive result."

The new regime received a boost on Thursday when an SFA panel overturned Sean McIntosh's red card against East Fife. The defender had been dismissed for denying a goalscoring opportunity, but the charge was reduced to a booking on review of video evidence.

Fellow defender Scott Stewart received a nasty ankle wound at Bayview and continues to be assessed.

Gavin Duncan is the referee for the season's second Monklands derby.

 


 
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