Pollok boss John Richardson hopes his patched-up team can rise to the occasion at Rob Roy in a league he says has turned into "survival of the fittest".

Lok are hoping to end an agonising five-week lay-off that would have had them kicking their heels in frustration but for Richardson arranging friendly matches against Airdrie and Morton.

But the much-needed workouts have come at a price with centre-backs Steven Reilly, Jonathan Carter and Peter McMahon all injured in the 2-2 draw against the Ton.

They are racing against time to be passed fit for the Adamslie Park encounter which is given added lashings of spice by it being the Lok gaffer's first return to his former pastures since dramatically walking away from the Kirkintil-loch outfit the season before last.

With inspirational skipper Paul Lovering still a long way from full fitness, Lok may be vulnerable to the threat of their former striker Iain Diack even if Rich manages to shuffle his pack to good effect.

He said: "Our best 11 are a match for any team in this division, but to have four central defenders out of action at one and the same time is a massive handicap, particularly against Rob Roy, who possess a good mix in so far as they are big and physical but can also play a bit.

"Diack is a big danger and they have a lot of height to throw into our box at set-pieces, however they have quality running through their team so our guys are going to need a big performance if we are to hold our own.

"This league is developing into a survival of the fittest and it's just unfortunate that we have so many key defenders nursing knocks."

The Lok boss was non-committal when asked what kind of reception he expected on his return to Adamslie.

He said: "John Mitchell and I had five very enjoyable years with Rob Roy and I'd like to think supporters appreciated the good times and how the team developed into a Super Premier side under our management.

"Obviously they've kicked on since Jimmy Lindsay arrived on the scene, and I'm happy to see them doing well, but not at Pollok's expense."

Richardson only recently celebrated his first anniversary in the Newlandsfield hotseat and he believes the southside club have taken huge strides forward under his tutelage.

He said: "Around this time last year I was in the depths of despair and getting pelters from supporters, so the Pollok dugout was a place where I didn't want to be.

"It would have been easy to blame other manager's mistakes for the state the club was in, but I took all the criticism on the chin and that made me determined to get things right."

He went on: "I wasn't entirely sure how we could possibly avoid relegation and my biggest fear was that Pollok could go the way of Maryhill and Kilwinning Rangers.

"I make no apologies for saying the turning point was Carlo Monti walking through the door because he was the spark that lifted the whole club up by its bootlaces and set us going in the right direction.

"Fast forward to today and everyone at this club is pulling together, which is not how it was a year ago.

"The difference is we find ourselves still in the main cup competitions and sitting mid-table in the Super Premier.

"Hand on heart I don't believe we can win the title, but neither do I think we will be in relegation bother, so the plan is to consolidate and build for the next campaign.

"That's not to say we will hold anything back against Rob Roy because nothing would please me more than to pick up three points."