McIntosh the apple of Balloch's eye as he buoys up Tynecastle

Tynecastle manager Murray Balloch prepared for this season with an air of optimism having re-signed the key players he wanted to retain and added the Central Taxis Premier Division goalscorer from last season, Wayne McIntosh from Lothian Thistle.

However, a horrendous catalogue of injuries prior to Tynecastle's opening league game against Edinburgh University meant that he was without nine players and the situation has not improved ahead of tomorrow's home clash with Selkirk, the surprise team of this season's campaign so far.

"I don't like to harp on and on about injuries but, after pre-season friendlies, from our squad of 19 we had nine injured players," lamented Balloch. "For our first game against the University our complete back four was unavailable. We have had to bring in players from our Under 19 team and to be fair to them they have not let us down."

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Tynecastle lost their two opening Premier Division games, 2-1 to Edinburgh University and 2-0 to Lothian Thistle. "Against the University we huffed and we puffed," said Balloch. "Then against Lothian we had a good chance to go ahead, missed it and then slipped into a mode which allowed them to run all over us." However, an Alex Jack Cup win in extra-time last Saturday against Heriot-Watt University garnered the Fernieside outfit their first victory of the season courtesy of a hat-trick from McIntosh. "I said to the players before the game that I didn't care how they won," added Balloch. "Our back four defended particularly well and after the game the changing room was a completely different place."

Tynecastle continued their transformation on Wednesday night with a 2-0 league win against the same opposition - Heriot Watt - to move them into a mid-table position, albeit very early in the campaign.

"Our position is not too bad because the one good thing about results so far this season is that all the teams, with the exception of Edinburgh University, are beating each other and dropping points," said Balloch.

One of the main factors in Tynecastle's revival is the form and commitment of goalscorer McIntosh. "I signed Wayne as a goalscorer on the park but my eyes have really been opened because I have signed more than that. Wayne is bubbly, infectious and encouraging in the dressing room and on the training pitch. He has brought a new dimension to the club." Tynecastle will be without Darren Aird, Gareth Thom, Steven Sives, Dean Knight, Eddie Malone, Robbie Dunn, Steven McKenzie, Ross Millen and Wayne Sproule.

Meanwhile, Selkirk will pitch up at Fernieside brimming with confidence after a 2-0 win against Vale of Leithen followed by by a 3-1 victory over Civil Service Strollers. "After our opening game when we lost 6-0 to Stirling University things could not have got much worse," said Selkirk manager Paul Brownlee. "There was nothing in the game after 30 minutes but we conceded a soft goal and went right downhill.

"We then played Vale with some of our defenders back and scored two good goals through Des Sutherland and Jason Cockburn. Against Civil Service our back four was never tested and we created loads of chances.

"We decided this season to give Border Amateur League players a chance to play at a higher level and they were keen to come meaning we have a big squad of 21 players."

Jason Inglis, who Brownlee signed from Coldstream will play alongside Euan Pritchard at the heart of the Souters defence with Paul Hossack, formerly of Gala Fairydean, in midfield.

Kick-off is 2.30pm at Fernieside Recreation Ground .