JAMES NESBITT wants his Royal Albert players to take hope from their impressive home record when looking to cut high-flying Pollok down to size on Saturday.

The sides meet at Tileworks Park in a Scottish Junior Cup second round tie and the 33-year-old team boss is well aware The Albert – a famous old club that has spent more than four decades in the West Region’s lowest reaches – are rated outright underdogs against a Lok side being openly tipped as potential cup winners.

But former player Nesbitt is adamant in his insistence that his Central Second Division title contenders should not have any inferiority complex going into the contest.

He said: “You can hardly deny Pollok are a quality team seeing as Tony McInally’s playing squad boasts four current Junior internationalists, however I firmly believe we are capable of giving them a game of it on the day.

“Our own dressing room cannot claim to have anything like the same big Junior names but what we do possess is vibrant youthfulness and no little energy running through our team which along with a very necessary sprinkling of experience added by our midfield pair of player/coach Chris Dolan and Barry Murdoch, formerly of Lesmahagow, will hopefully stand us in good stead.

“Unfortunately yet another of our more seasoned heads, team captain Jack Baptie (son of former Falkirk, Motherwell and Hamilton Accies legend Crawford) misses the game because he is serving a two-game ban for a recent red carding in a league match against Carluke Rovers and there’s no doubt we will miss someone of his physical attributes.

“But his absence opens the door for others and we have no shortage of hungry players desperate to show they deserve a starting place to prove they can hack it against one of the Junior big guns.”

Nesbitt, whose playing career was cut short by a snapped cruciate ligament injury earned his managerial spurs following a stint as assistant to Gary Johnstone at Gartcairn and he laughed off suggestions that Royal Albert were considering switching the cup tie to Newlandsfield for financial reasons.

He scoffed: “I think that story may have emanated from my players wanting to play at one of the top Junior grounds in the game but it was never in my thoughts even if the powers-that-be had chosen to sanction it.

“We have not lost at home since mid-August and even then it was a 3-2 defeat by Gartcairn where Barry Murdoch very untypically missed a penalty-kick that would have earned us a fully-deserved draw.

“The guys have gone on a seven-match unbeaten run since and there’s a confidence in the camp that has everyone looking forward to Pollok coming here with their big travelling support.

“And if the surroundings and the tight pitch confines isn’t to their players’ liking then so much the better as I’ll gladly accept any advantage.

Recalling his own playing days, Nesbitt says he earned a valuable lesson when part of a Royal Albert side that were 2-1 up away to Glenafton in a Scottish tie only to concede a late goal and subsequently lose out 5-1 in the replay.

He insisted: “You only get one crack at it if you are fortunate to get one of the top teams on a bad day because they can be merciless once you earn their respect.”

Pollok gaffer Tony McInally refutes any suggestion his Lok playing charges will be feeling complacent about facing lower league opponents.

He revealed: “We are on a decent run ourselves – unbeaten in our last six outings – and the players are not in the mood for letting up not least because we have the Sectional League Cup Final against Clydebank coming up next weekend and there is no lack of competition for the starting jerseys.

“We’ve shown Royal Albert every possible respect by watching them in action and there is no tip-toeing around the fact they are a vastly-improved team this season and capable of posing problems if we are not up for it.”

Word on the Lok team front reckons striker Stefan McCluskey who damaged ankle ligaments in last Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Beith is rated a non-starter which could possibly open the door for Derek Hepburn (a scorer at Bellsdale Park) to figure from the start at Tileworks Park, however McInally has other selection options in the shape of fit-again Adam Forde and Alan McKenzie.