Central First Division league leaders Cambuslang Rangers have secured the high-profile signing of striker John Gemmell in a surprise move that has dashed title rivals St Roch's hopes of landing the towering hitman.

Only last midweek, Gemmell whose journeyman career in the Seniors was marked by notable scoring stints with Albion Rovers and Dumbarton. was reckoned to be on the verge of joining the Candy Rock.

However, an audacious approach from Wee Gers boss Paul McColl has resulted in the 32-year-old putting pen to paper for his third Junior club this season following spells with Super Premier Division pair Hurlford United and Arthurlie.

“John has a physical presence that we have lacked all season and fits the bill as a player who can help improve us as a team," was an unrepentant McColl's response to being asked why the highest scoring side throughout the West Region (69 league goals to their name) would want to recruit another striker.

“He has a very impressive goals per game scoring ratio since dropping into the Juniors (15 goals with Hurlford alone) that has been marred somewhat by four red cards.

"But two of those dismissals were a result of double yellow offences which can happen so easily at this level of the game.

“I spoke with his Arthurlie manager Chris Mackie as well as Hurlford assistant boss John Dempster and they both spoke highly of his attitude and professionalism, which convinced me to bring John on board.

“He’s working down south all week and will only return on Friday, but let’s just say I haven’t totally ruled him out from having a part to play when we head through to face Larkhall Thistle on Saturday.”

Cambuslang go into the Gasworks Park top-of-the table-clash in confident mood following last weekend’s comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Benburb through scores from attack minded trio Craig Hastings, Liam Gormley and Dale Simeone.

McColl added: "The guys were more like their old selves following a couple of hiccup performances in recent outings and I was pleased with how we responded to the challenges posed by Benburb with Craig Hastings ,our recent signing from East Kilbride in the Lowland League, showing up particularly well on the day.

“More of the same positivity will be needed against the Larkie, a side with a fair sprinkling of experienced heads whose liking for getting the ball down to play passing football caused us a few headaches when we met at Somervell Park.

“Our head to head is arguably one of the games of the day so I’d like to think there’s every chance of a bigger than normal crowd turning out to provide a decent atmosphere.”

Looking forward to his side’s locking of horns with the frontrunning Gers is experienced Jags boss Dunky Sinclair.

Now in his seventh season at the helm of the Lanarkshire outfit, he is feeling confident his playing charges can continue their promotion push.

He said: "I’ve always preached the importance of taking one game at a time however results over the next few weeks will undoubtedly tell us where we stand in the grand scheme of things.

“The players are doing well and I’m happier than I’ve been for some time with our strength in depth because one of the big differences this season is having guys waiting in the wings capable of stepping up to the plate and doing a job for the team in times of injuries, suspensions and loss of form.

“This factor has enabled us to be far more consistent and you can see that in the stats which show our last league defeat was the Somervell Park clash with Cambuslang way back in early November when we were 1-0 ahead going into the final twenty minutes yet ended up losing 4-1.

“Hopefully, our better defensive organisation can withstand the attacking threat posed by the likes of Liam Gormley and Thomas Kilmartin this time around as we have to be looking to pick up all three points from Cambuslang to pile pressure on second top St Roch's and indeed Wishaw whom I believe will be in the mix when the step-up places are being decided.”

The former Scotland Juniors midfielder came away impressed from casting an eye on his Wee Gers opponents in last weekend’s defeat of Benburb.

He said , “Cambuslang were quicker and stronger all over the pitch and it’s no exaggeration to say they blew the Bens away so my players will need to be up for the game to prevent a similar fate happening to themselves.

“Hopefully we can pose them a few more problems up top where Graham Gracie’s contribution to our winning run has been immense and he’s fully deserved the plaudits that have come his way.

“That said I’m sure he would be first to apportion a lot of credit to the supporting runs of Mark Canning and Brian Jack from midfield and to the scoring chances created by Div Reid and Josh Payne down the flanks.

“We are in a good place right now and the hope is we can be in a better one come Saturday evening.”

Among the other crunch First Division contests, Roch's will be understandably wary of going up against second bottom of the table Forth Wanderers who ran out shock 3-2 winners when the clubs met at the James McGrory Stadium while Wishaw are unlikely to get an easy time of it away to a Benburb side determined to stop the rot following three consecutive league defeats.