FIVE members of Ronnie Sharp's squad are set to miss out on this Christmas Eve trip to Formartine United as Nairn County look to start their festive fixtures with a morale-boosting result.
Formartine have excelled in the Scottish Cup this season, reaching the fourth round of the competition thanks to a comprehensive demolition of League Two Annan Athletic in round three and they are now looking forward to a trip to Premiership side Partick Thistle in January.
Before that though, manager Kris Hunter will be desperate for his squad to take maximum points from their league fixtures with United having fallen nine points off the pace at the top of the Highland League table, although the North Lodge club are far from out of the title race as they crucially hold two games in hand.
Nairn added another point to their tally last Saturday with a home draw against Keith although it could and maybe should have been all three for Sharp's side thanks to a dominant second half display. The level of performance will do Sharp's players' confidence no harm at all though as they go into this one looking to cause an upset.
You can follow live coverage of this match on facebook.com/nairncountyfc and @NairnCounty on Twitter with team lines available before kick-off, live updates of all of the major talking points as the match progresses, a report on the final whistle and reaction after the match. Please note that kick-off is at 1.00 pm. Full preview below:
Date: Saturday December 24th 2016
Competition: Scottish Highland Football League
Opponents: Formartine United
Manager: Kris Hunter
Venue: North Lodge, Pitmedden
Previous meeting: Nairn County 0 Formartine United 2 August 31st 2016
Last time out: Fort William 1 Formartine United 1; Nairn County 1 Keith 1
League position: Formartine United 4th Nairn County 14th
Form guides: Formartine United LWWWWD Nairn County LDDLLD
Team news: Top scorer Gary Kerr serves the second of his two-match ban following his ordering off at Buckie Thistle a fortnight ago while Jamie Mackay and Willie Barron also drop out of the squad because of work commitments. Jason Morganti is struggling to recover from the groin strain that forced him off just after half time during the 1-1 draw with Keith last Saturday while Paul Macleod is still sidelined with a foot injury. Ronnie Sharp is awaiting SFA clearance to add an additional face to his squad in time to feature in this match.
One to watch: Scott Barbour. This rapid attacker has been a thorn in Nairn's side numerous times down through the years be it with Formartine or his former club, Fraserburgh. Capable of playing on either the left or the right of the attack, Barbour netted a fine opener when these two clubs met at Station Park back in August to put United on their way to a narrow victory and he has it in his locker to make the difference again in this one as both sides go search of a pre-Christmas boost.
Match officials: Referee Will Smith, Assistants Anthony Cooper and David MacLennan
Weather forecast: Sunny intervals 3 degrees 19 mph wind
Admission prices: Adults £8 Concessions £5 (two children under the age of 14 are admitted for free if they are accompanied by a paying adult).