Dumbarton manager Stevie Farrell has hailed the mental toughness of his players as the league season approaches the half-way mark.

Sons were without a fixture at the weekend as cup competitions took priority, allowing Faz time to reflect on the season so far.

The Castle Road side started the season in sensational fashion after the disappointment of relegation last season, winning their first seven games to go clear at the top of League Two.

And they haven’t looked back, only losing two league games so far and currently sitting three points clear of Stirling Albion at the summit.

Farrell admits there’s been much more to the success than just turning up for training twice a week and playing on a Saturday - and it isn’t time for that hard work to stop.

Speaking exclusively to the Reporter, he said: “You can only take the here and now, and right now we’re doing really well. We haven’t been out the top two all season.

“We’ve been right there, bang in the race, and we need to make sure we continue to work really hard.

“The boys are doing everything we ask of them. They put demands on each other and there is real competition for places in the squad.

“We’re doing a lot of work with the players trying to build their physical attributes, but also their mental attributes.

“What we’ve built up with Matty [Fenwick, sports scientist] we make sure the players are as physically fit as they can.

“We’ve done a lot of work around about the mental side of things because being top of the league brings different type of mental challenges. Everyone is chasing us and wants to knock us off that top perch.

“For any team to be at the top of the league for as long we have been needs to be mentally strong as well as physically strong.”

Faz has been forced to use the depth of his squad in recent weeks, with injuries and suspensions in key areas of the pitch presenting opportunities to players who found game time hard to come by early in the season.

The likes of Gregg Wylde and David Wilson have more than taken their chance when given the nod in recent weeks with the pair of them both finding the net twice and impressing in midfield.

Farrell praised the duo for stepping into the team seamlessly and revealed if they keep performing, they will keep their name on the team sheet.

He said: “Managers approach things differently and my management has always been about forming that competition and the players have a trust in the management team that if they do get in the side and perform, they’re not going to be looking over their shoulder.

“At the start of the season Finlay Gray was flying and David Wilson had to bide his time, but now David has come in when Finlay got injured, and now Finlay has to bide his time – and that’s good because players know where they stand.

“There’s an honesty and trust within the squad and everyone is competing to play in the team and they know when they get in and do well they have a right good chance of staying there.”