NAIRN County completed the first two signings of the Ronnie Sharp Revolution tonight, writes Graeme Macleod.
Calum Riddell and Gary Kerr have both put pen to paper on one-year deals at Station Park.
The pair featured for County as trialists this summer making a positive impression by plundering goals in the pre-season friendly fixtures against Nairn St Ninian and Inverness City.
Boss Ronnie Sharp was delighted to bring in both players in what is a timely boost to his lean squad ahead of Saturday's opening Highland League fixture against Brora Rangers.
He said: "We have had both of these players in training with us for a few weeks now and they have earned their deals."
"Gary has been carrying a hamstring injury but he is started to look really sharp and once he gets up and running for the season then I am sure he will be a good signing for us. He is a big, strong physical presence up front and is good with his back to goal, so he fits in perfectly to the style of play we are looking to implement."
"He can finish as well and I am sure that once he settles in and builds up his fitness and his confidence that he will be a quality player for the team."
He added: "I know Calum well having worked with him for years at St Ninian. He mostly played as a centre midfielder there but we have put him in at the back and he has done really well. He is good in the air, reads the game and he is desperate for a chance to play in the Highland League for his home town club having been released as a youngster, so he certainly has the hunger to do well for us. He can play in the centre of the park or up front as well, so brings versatility to the squad, which is also something that we are going to have to look for in players this year."
The boss is looking to add more new faces to his squad with three trialists involved in training on Thursday and others possibly joining them next week.
Sharp said: "Calum and Gary are the sorts of players we want at the club - players who are coming here for the right reasons with a point to prove. We have been doing our homework on all potential new signings because we want the right characters and personalities at the club, as well as the right quality of player. We will not just go out and sign a player for the sake of it if we do not think that they will fit in with positive environment we are building up at the club."
Riddell rejoins the club having spent seven years at Nairn St Ninian. The 27-year-old came through the youth ranks at Station Park but never made a competitive first team appearance. He won the Elginshire Cup during his time at the Showfield and played in a Saints team which won promotion from Division 2 of the North Region Juniors setup.
He said: "I am very happy to be back with the club and I am ready to go for Saturday and looking forward to a big challenge against Brora. It certainly is a good chance for us to go out and make a name for ourselves with everything that has happened at the club over the summer."
"I have been doing a bit of my own training as well as being involved in training with the squad as I want to get a bit fitter than what I have been and to also drop a little bit of weight."
"It has been a good start for me here getting a couple of goals in the games over the last week, which has made it a bit easier to settle in but I cannot guarantee that will continue!"
"I have been playing at centre half and it took a wee bit of getting used to in the first game I played there against Saints. I have been finding my feet slowly but surely though and hopefully I will adapt quick enough but I will taking each game as it comes and trying to learn as much as I can as quickly as I can. I certainly felt a lot more comfortable in there on Saturday against Inverness City than I did during the first game."
Sealing his move is the culmination of six weeks of hard work for Riddell, who linked up with the squad at the start of pre-season training prior to Sharp's appointment.
He added: "I was asked through Paul Macleod to come up and train when the club did not have a manager. I had been at St Ninian for a number of years and I am now working at home and not offshore, so I thought it was the right time to take on a fresh challenge and see if I could step up to the Highland League."
Kerr spent two seasons at Nairn County from 2013 and rejoins the club after a year away. He featured 14 times during his first stint with the club scoring twice and also spending time on loan at Clachnacuddin.
The 25-year-old said: "I am happy to get another crack at it with Nairn because I felt I never really got a fair chance first time around, so I am happy to here and hopefully we can have a good season."
"I left the club a year ago and was with Strathspey for a while. I picked up an injury early on though, which prevented me from getting into the team and I never really played much. I was back playing in the Inverness Amateurs for Loch Ness over the summer though, so I was happy to get some games and some goals under my belt and now I am looking forward to getting going in the Highland League again."
"I am happy with the way things have gone for me in pre-season and this is probably the fittest I have been in a while. I am looking forward to the season starting and I am enjoying the training with Sharpie because he knows what he is talking about."
"I got a shout from Ross Naismith to get back involved when the club was struggling for players before they appointed a manager, so I came along to training and it took off from there."
The centre forward is likely to be handed far more appearances than during his first spell at Station Park with Sharp's squad currently low on numbers.
He added: "I want to hit the ground running and I want to score a few goals early on in the season. If I can do that then hopefully I can kick on and play a lot of games - reaching double figures for goals would definitely be nice but we will wait and see what happens over the course of the season."
"We could not ask for a harder start to the season than a game against Brora on Saturday but there is no pressure on us. We will go out there, do our best and see how it goes."
Both players are in contention to make the first competitive appearances of their second spells with the club in Saturday's clash with Brora Rangers.