Friday 5th August 2016

GRANT GALLAGHER was within a penalty shoot-out of going back to see some old friends.

Instead he’ll have to get revenge on their behalf, against the team who prevented the reunion.

The Dumbarton midfielder admitted he would have liked a return to Stranraer, for whom he played under current Sons boss Stevie Aitken.

But the Stair Park side lost last season’s play-off final to Ayr United on penalties, meaning that Dumbarton will travel to Somerset Park this season instead.

And Grant, who comes from neighbouring Kilmarnock, admits that Ayr – the only other side in the Ladbrokes SPFL Championship with any part-time players – will be a target.

He said: “That’s been the story for Stranraer for the past few years. They’ve come close but fallen at the final hurdle.

“It would have been good to go back there. There are some really good players and really good people behind the scenes.

“But I think Ayr United will be our main rivals this season. They are looking to push on and it is always a battle when you go to Somerset Park.

“Although we know it won’t be easy, they are a team we would look to finish above.

“There have obviously been a few additions to the squad and the gaffer is quite open that he is looking to add again.”

As far as Dumbarton’s fortunes go Grant, who is in his second season at the club, is ambitious.

He admits that the main goal is to stay in the Championship, but depending on how the early stages go, sights could be set higher.

He continued: “I’m looking forward to the new league season. I think it will be harder this year, but there are a lot of predictions saying that people are looking for us to go down.

“We came through the league last season to prove the doubters wrong and we’ll be aiming to do that again.

“Realistically we want to stay in the league, but if you get off to a flier your goals can change.

“If, come Christmas time, we are around mid-table, we aim higher than that. If we’re lower down the league we look to hang on in there.

“We’ve got two very hard opening games. We’d have preferred to start at home but we know the fans will travel to Dunfermline and get behind us.”

Unfortunately, Grant will not be able to play on Saturday. A yellow card picked up in last season’s penultimate game away to Hibs took him over the threshold, meaning he is suspended.

However, he will be available to face Dundee United next week, and has kept busy during his recent suspension from the Betfred Cup.

He added: “Dunfermline is a place I’ve always enjoyed playing, and it will be good on Saturday with a team coming up.

“We want to hit the ground running and I’m disappointed I can’t play, especially with the ban being carried over from last season, which seems quite strange for a new campaign.

“But I’ve been working hard despite not being able to play, and Tuesday night at Clydebank was certainly a help.”

Join the debate @dumbartonfc and #sons24

Andy Galloway

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