BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
LUCA Gasparotto is convinced Falkirk can go one better this season and clinch promotion back to the Premiership.
The summer signing watched from afar last term as the Bairns fell at the final hurdle in their bid to return to the top-flight.
The 22-year-old defender was back home in Canada by the time Peter Houston’s men were slugging it out in the play-offs but was willing them on ahead of his move from Rangers.
After that agonising play-off final defeat to Kilmarnock, Falkirk begin their quest again this weekend when they host Hibernian in a mouthwatering opening-day clash.
Gasparotto, who spent last season on loan at Morton, expects Saturday’s visitors to be up there challenging for the title again in the coming campaign.
But he believes the Bairns can prevail, just like they did last season when they pipped the Easter Road outfit to second in the table and then beat them in the play-off semis.
The Canada under-23 cap said: “I didn’t watch Falkirk’s (play-off) games against Hibs last season because I was back home in Canada for my summer.
“But I did follow them on Twitter and was hoping Falkirk would get up.
“They got ever so close but hopefully we can do one better this year and get up to where I think we should be. I think we have the quality.
“Falkirk are a big club and we should be higher than where we are now. If we can play the way we can every week we will have a good chance.
“The Championship is going to be very competitive this year. We’ve got Dundee United coming down, Hibs, St Mirren – who have done good work over the off-season – and even Dunfermline coming up will be a tough test.
“It’s going to be very competitive this season and I think it will be very close.
“But I think we have got the quality and the coaching staff, who have put in great work in training to get us right for the season. I think we can do well.”
Falkirk finalised their preparations for Saturday’s big league kick-off with a comfortable, if subdued, Betfred Cup win over Brechin City on Saturday.
Gasparotto netted the Bairns’ first from a corner shortly after the break and Nathan Austin completed the 2-0 victory with a header from Craig Sibbald’s free-kick just three minutes later.
However, Gasparotto knows the visit of Hibs will pose far greater problems.
He added: “It will be tough. We know that they are like. I think we had 80 per cent of possession on Saturday and it will be much different next weekend.
“They will pop the ball about and we are going to have to keep our shape defensively and work hard.
“We are just going to do our thing and play well, try to break them down as much as we can and take our chances when they come, because no doubt we will get chances, we have just got to finish them.
“It’s a new season, an opening game against Hibs at home. It doesn’t get much bigger than that in the Championship season.
“I am expecting a full house, I am expecting the fans to be in full voice and I am looking forward to it.”