KELTY HEARTS manager Barry Ferguson believes their Betfred Cup bow against St Johnstone will be "a tremendous test" for his squad.

But he has encouraged his players to "have a go" at their top flight opponents on what will be an historic occasion at New Central Park this evening.

The Lowland League champions are competing in the competition for the first time and have been drawn in Group C, which also contains Dundee United, Peterhead and Brechin City.

It's an exciting proposition for Ferguson and his squad who, after tonight's match, open their league campaign against Edinburgh University on Tuesday, before travelling to United next Tuesday.

Looking ahead to the game against Saints, who are managed by former Pars coach Callum Davidson, Ferguson told his club's video channel: "They're clear favourites.

"St Johnstone are a Premier League club; they've got a lot of good players, they're well ahead of us in terms of preparation, they've got a really good manager who I know well, and they've got a good backroom staff. It's going to be a good test for us.

"We've got a good team; there's no doubt about it, we've got a good squad of players, but that gets you nowhere. The players have got to be prepared to do the dirty side of the game, and that means outwork whoever they're playing against.

"It's going to be a great test for us and I'm not one for 'look, we're going to go out and enjoy the occasion'. We're going to go out and try and have a go at St Johnstone, try and win the game and see where it takes us.

"That's the kind of mindset I've got, it's the mindset I want the players to have, but it will be a tremendous test against Premier League opposition."

Although he has lost some players from last season's squad, most recently Stephen Husband, Ferguson has added the likes of Kallum Higginbotham, Paddy Boyle and Dougie Hill to his pool.

"It's just great to get back out on the training field and it's great to see the
boys again," he continued.

"Obviously we've made a few new signings and it was important for them to settle in.

"It's a bit different, don't get me wrong, but it's been the same for every other
club as well. It's been a strange time but the most important thing is we're back
training, the competitive games are just around the corner, and that's something
we're looking forward to.

"We've had a few pre-season games; things have went alright. There's still things
that we need to improve on, and as I say it's still trying to get the new players
used to the way we want to do things, but things have went pretty well and we're
just looking forward to getting back out on the field.

"The only issue is it would be great to have fans here but there's a virus that's sweeping the world the now and we've got to be respectful of that."
Tonight's game, which kicks off at 7.45pm, is available to stream for £12.50.

For details, visit