NEWLY appointed Wishaw manager Derek Holmes has talked up his new charges' chances of overcoming Forth Wanderers in their overdue Scottish Junior Cup fourth-round clash on Saturday.

Optimistic noises are coming out from the Lanarkshire club about The Beltane hosting the game at the fourth time of asking and hopes are higher still of ex-Senior player Holmes getting his managerial tenure off to a winning start.

The former striker, best known for a chequered playing career spent on both sides of the border, can number Hearts, Ross County and St Johnstone – where he was a First Division Championship winner under Derek McInnes among his many Scottish clubs – while he also played with no little distinction for Carlisle United, Rotheram United and most notably for the Sean O’Driscoll-steered Bournemouth where he was a team-mate of the current Cherries boss Eddie Howe.

Holmes, who resides in Wishaw, a short walk from the Junior club’s ground, threw his hat in the ring for the vacant manager’s position following Wishaw’s recent parting of the ways with John Brogan.

And he already has an assistant in place, one-time feted Junior hitman Brian Crawford, whose previous clubs include Cumbernauld United, Shotts Bon Accord as well as Cup opponents Forth, and the new management team met their Wishaw players for the first time on Monday night.

Homer admitted: "I’m not going to make rash statements when I'm just in the door and still getting to know the players, but first impressions are that Brian and I have landed on our feet by inheriting a really good team.

“That opinion has been endorsed by the very knowledgeable Rab Sneddon who has looked after team matters over the past couple of weeks and has marked our cards on what he has learned about the players.

“And we see no need to do more than tweak one or two things because the guys here are willing workers with good habits, as you can clearly see by their league position near the top of the table, and the fact they are just 90 minutes away from a last-16 place in the Scottish Cup.

“It’s a winnable tie against Forth but at the same time a very testing first game for us. However, Brian and I cannot wait for Saturday to come around.”

Holmes and Crawford have remained good friends ever since playing together at Boys Club level but their career paths have taken separate ways until their pursuit of Uefa A-Licences saw them meet up again.

Homer added: "I’m due to undergo my final A-Licence assessment in the summer but I have kept my hand in by looking after training sessions with various clubs and I did enjoy a longer coaching stint working with Warren Feeney down at Crawley Town after I stopped playing.

“And I had my education furthered even more when a recent trip back to Bournemouth with my son to take in their game with Arsenal saw Eddie Howe allow us to watch the players close up in training and it was a real eye opener.

“Hopefully I can put all the lessons learned into practice as a coach/manager and it’s a dream come true to have the opportunity with my home town team.”

Wishaw have endured a horrific run of Scottish Cup postponements (the third-round tie against Dundee Downfield was called off on eight occasions) which has severely impacted on their Central First Division campaign and the points gap between them and league leaders Rossvale could be stretched to 21 if the Bishopbriggs club get the better of Shotts Bon Accord this week.

Second-placed Benburb will keep in touch with Gordan Moffat’s men with a win over third-top Neilston at New Tinto Park while St Roch's will be looking to bounce back from last weekend’s 3-0 defeat by Glasgow Perthshire when heading out on the road to face Lessmahagow.

Meanwhile, an opportunity for Junior fans to take in some early weekend fare presents itself tomorrow night at the Carluke-based John Cummings Stadium (7.45PM) where Royal Albert and Bellshill Athletic are locking horns in a crunch Second Division promotion encounter.