Having lost their two starting centre-backs from the previous campaign in the space of a few pre-season weeks, Hamilton welcomed the commanding presence of new signing Georgios Sarris among the starting XI in Saturday’s win over Livingston.
The hosts rode their luck in the final BetFred Cup group match though eventually managed to eek out the desired result, as goals from Alex D’Acol and Louis Longridge, either side of a Sean Crighton header, saw Hamilton’s safe passage into the next round at the expense of St Mirren and Ayr United, who missed out on topping the group on goal difference.
While Accies struggled on the whole against a team two leagues below them, Sarris, pictured right, was a reassuring presence at the back. The Greek is a ready-made replacement for Lucas Tagliapetra, who left for Boavista this summer.
Each centre-back has tremendous upper body strength thanks to a broad, muscular frame, which they complement with the type of assured technical skills on the ball we’ve come to expect from an imported defender. The signing will also soften the blow felt by the loss of Jesus Garcia Tena, as the Spaniard has been ruled out until after the New Year through injury.
Even though a draw would have seen Accies eliminated at the hands of League One opponents, Martin Canning decided to withdraw his new addition with 30 minutes remaining, choosing to gamble that his side could see out the victory while protecting his player for next week’s league opener at Ibrox.
It’s going to be quite the baptism of fire for the 26-year-old, who signed a two-year deal after leaving Turkish side Kayseri Erciyesspor.
However, Sarris insists the atmosphere at Ibrox for Rangers’ first game back in the top flight will have no baring on the outcome of the match. He also made it patently clear the lure of the Old Firm, and the chance to play in front of 50,000 spectators a few times a season, had nothing to do with his decision to sign on at the Superseal Stadium.
“I will treat every game the same. It doesn’t matter if I am playing in front of one fan – or 100,000. You need to concentrate on the game, your team and your goals,” said Sarris. “You never see what the other team is doing. Only your team. We play within four lines on a pitch. We don’t play with fans. It’s 11 v 11 on the pitch.
“I didn’t come to Scotland just to play against clubs like Rangers – I came to play against all the teams. We don’t face Celtic and Rangers every week. It’s different teams and Scotland is a big football nation.”
Sarris could have been on these shores a year ago after he left AEK Athens. He decided to move to Turkey, but when he became available again Canning was able to secure his man.
“I have watched Scottish football for many years,” added Sarris. “It’s a good league, hard and quick, but there is technique too. I am happy to be here at Hamilton.”