Written by Nairn County FC November 28th 2016

RONNIE Sharp has continued developing his plans for the next few seasons by tying a further two players down to new contracts. Kenny McKenzie has signed a one-year extension to his existing contract with Stephen Mackenzie agreeing a two-year extension, keeping both players at the club until the summer of 2019. The news follows on from Callum Maclean, Jack Maclean and Jordan Macrae signing new deals last week. Manager Ronnie Sharp said: "It is a real boost for us to get both of these players tied up for the next few seasons." "Kenny picked up an injury during pre-season just after I came into the job and missed the start of the season for us when he was a big loss to the team. He has come back now and is getting better every week in the middle of the park." "He brings a nice balance to the midfield three and he is a difficult player to dispossess with the ball at his feet, so he can make things happen for us in the final third. Some of the football we have played over the last few weeks has been excellent and Kenny has been a big part of that." He added: "Stevie came in during pre-season and was really thrown in at the deep end when he was asked to play out of position at full back after just one training session. He acquitted himself well and did a job for the team while we were missing a lot of players." "Now, he has moved into the centre of the defence and he is another player who is continuing to improve and will only get better. He is also very versatile as he can play in the middle of the park if we need him to." "Both of these players have the attitude and attributes that we want at the club going forward. They work hard in training, are a pleasure to have around the place and they want to learn. That can only be a good thing for the club going forward." "We are still working on one or two more deals with other players in the squad and we hope to have positive news on that front shortly." Midfielder McKenzie joined the club from Fort William last summer and has made 40 appearances in his season-and-a-half at Station Park notching two goals, the latest coming in the thrilling 4-4 draw with Forres Mechanics last month. "It was an easy decision to stay," he stated. "The players who stayed with the club are all good friends of mine and there is a good chemistry going in the team just now. Going to another club never even entered my head and although I was already signed up for next season, I am happy to have extended my contract further and I can now concentrate on playing football." "The season has been good so far. At the beginning, I did not know what to expect because a lot of boys moved on and there were big changes at the club. It would be easy to think it might be a struggle and we might get battered by teams but that has not happened. We have turned up and results have shown that we can compete with all of the teams in the league." The 24-year-old has played a more central role this season having only featured wide on the left during his maiden campaign at Station Park. He added: "The football under Ronnie is good as well and I am enjoying playing in centre midfield. Last season, I played out wide and obviously I am left footed but I am not a big fan of all of the running up and down that you sometimes have to do in that role and although centre midfield is still quite hard work, you always get time to get on the ball and get involved. Easter (Gregg Main) and Toshy (Wayne Mackintosh) are great to play alongside in there too and (Calum) Riddell has been involved as well. I am loving it." During the summer exodus which saw 14 players leave Station Park through their own choice, McKenzie had no other thought than to stay and help the club by being part of the rebuilding job now being carved out by Sharp. The midfielder said: "When a lot of boys were moving on, I thought that I would be able to step up and play a lot more than I did last season. That was obviously a big thing for me. That is why players should come and play for Nairn – to play football and be out there on the pitch. We have a good squad of boys and people vying for positions, so you still have to work hard." Ex-Clach defender Mackenzie moved to the club in the summer after being on the brink of joining Strathspey Thistle. He said: "I am really, really happy at the club. Training is really good and Sharpie organises the way we play really well. I get on with all of the boys and I am really enjoying my football at Nairn." "Last season, I did not enjoy it and I was very close to not playing at all this season. But I have really found my love for football again playing at Nairn, so as soon as I was offered a contract extension, I was delighted to accept. It was an easy decision to take." The 22-year-old is enjoying his longest run of games at the club and is settling into his preferred position having made 16 appearances so far this season. He added: "I have always played centre half. When I was playing at full back at the start of the season, I was trying to learn the position but I feel far, far more comfortable playing at centre half and I enjoy playing in a back three as well as I have played in that system a lot at different clubs." The defender is looking for the team to push on during the second half of the season having spent a lot of the first half of the campaign finding their feet again after a turbulent summer at the club. He said: "Once we have the two boys (Gregg Main and Wayne Mackintosh) back from suspension we will have our strongest team available with everyone fit and fighting for positions in the team, so hopefully the second half of the season will go really well." "We lost a few games by one goal in the first half of the season, so hopefully we can turn that around during the second half of the season and pick up a lot more points and climb the table very quickly." Graeme Macleod

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