Chris Strain is sick of people talking about his Ardrossan Winton Rovers side as relegation candidates and wants to shut them up by picking up three points when Bellshill Athletic first foot Winton Park this Sunday.

A sizable crowd is sure to take in the only Super First Division fixture taking place and seasoned boss Strain is urging his players to grasp this opportunity to promote themselves up the standings.

He said: “It’s absolute nonsense to hear this game described in some quarters as a 'must win basement battle' without taking into account that we have played fewer games than any other team in our division.

“Admittedly we are down in fourth bottom spot and Bellshill are two places worse off, but the very fact we could go second top were we to win our three games in hand tells just how little there is to choose between the vast majority of teams.

“And neither can it be overlooked that notching up a win of any sorts on Sunday would enable us to leapfrog over five other teams and claim sixth top spot.

“Achieving that aim would put a smile on supporters faces as well as providing a timely New Year boost ahead of a sequence of vital games against Blantyre Vics, Shotts Bon Accord and Maybole.”

Strain’s determination to make strengthening moves over the coming weeks explains his willingness to listen to offers for out-of-favour duo John Johnston and Lee McRae.

However, newly off the transfer list is Connor Browning, who is in the gaffer’s thoughts for a starting jersey on Sunday.

He added: "I’m pleased to have Connor back in the fold and altogether a lot happier with the way the guys have picked up their game since the signings of Graham Boyd and Simon Marriot.

“Bellshill beat us 2-0 at their place early on this season but I’m confident we can give a better showing of ourselves this time out.

David Greig, who recently stepped down as Blantyre Vics boss, is planning to take in Sunday’s clash and reckons Winton Rovers are in a false league position.

He said: "Chris has every right to think Ardrossan should be doing better given the players at his disposal particularly in the forward areas.

“And having a decent scoring threat could be the ace up his sleeve as Bellshill have not had their problems to seek defensively and I say that even though they recently eked out a 0-0 draw with the league leaders Largs Thistle.

“Mark Daly was their best defender when Blantyre played them, but he has gone back to former club Wishaw which only adds to David Lilley’s problems.”

Greggy refuses to rule out a number of the basement clubs getting away to a fresh start in the New Year.

He said: "Maybole are looking the only certainties to go down because Ardrossan appear to have too much quality while Bellshill look capable of picking up points at their own Rockburn Park pitch which is a great leveller.

“ Blantyre have more than enough about them to stay out of danger and you can never rule out Rutherglen Glencairn going on a winning run towards the end of the season so I can’t help but think a number of other teams will be dragged into a dogfight.”

There’s still no news on the identity of Greig’s replacement at Castle Park, however an announcement could be imminent with interviews set to be concluded tonight.

Meanwhile, word on the grapevine reckons ex-Albion Rovers manager James Ward, who came within 15 minutes of steering the Coatbridge club into the 2014 Scottish Cup semi-finals at the expense of Rangers, has jumped to the top of the queue of candidates in the running to be unveiled as Irvine Meadow’s new team manager next week.

Wardy, a highly regarded coach and steeped in the Junior game from playing stints with Neilston, Arthurlie, Beith and Glenafton among others, has been striving to get back into Senior football ever since the Rovers board surprisingly opted to replace him with Darren Young at the end of that infamous 2013/14 season.

The high-profile Medda post clearly ticks a lot of boxes for the 43-year-old and his is one of the c.v’s reputed to be receiving consideration by the Ayrshire club officials even though the closing date for applicants is not until next Monday

And should speculation surrounding the 43 year old ‘s appointment prove well-founded then one can expect further intrigue over his likely dugout companions given that his backroom team at Cliftonhill consisted of current Kilbirnie Ladeside No.2 Mark Cameron and revered Arthurlie coach Jimmy McQuade.