Dundee loanee Luke Graham reckons his Montrose move is bringing the best out of him as he relishes the step up to League One.
The central defender has been a regular choice off the bench for Mighty Mo manager Stewart Petrie since arriving on loan from Dens Park.
The Gable Endies sit fifth in League One and Graham, who has caught the eye of the likes of Rangers, Celtic and Arsenal in recent years, is appreciating the step up in level.
He spent last season on loan at Albion Rovers as they suffered relegation from League Two. That followed a spell in junior football with Lochee United.
The youngster says those two moves helped toughen him up with the “physicality” of playing against men rather than in youth football a real benefit.
But now he’s in the third tier, he’s keen to show a new side to his game as he aims add to his eight appearances so far.
“It’s been very good,” Graham said of the move to Montrose on the club’s YouTube channel.
“The boys have been very good to me, it’s a tight-knit group. The manager has been good with me as well.
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“It’s a really well-run club.
“League One is a lot different to what I’m used to with all the astroturf pitches.
“League Two had a lot of sticky grass pitches with not a lot of football being played so it’s nice to see another side of the game.
“One of my strongest points is playing with the ball rather than going long quickly and winning headers.”
St Johnstone history
Graham is learning from the likes of long-time Dundee United skipper Sean Dillon, still a regular at the age of 40 and “a wise head” according to the 18-year-old.
“When I was younger I played Sunday league football in Perth and when I was eight or nine I got scouted by St Johnstone,” he added.
“I was there for four or five years but I didn’t really get on with some of the coaches and went back to Sunday league football.
“That’s when I got scouted by Dundee. I wasn’t sure at first and went back to playing for a boy’s club and eventually wanted to give it another crack at Dundee.”
He added: “My mum and dad … were the reason I went back to Dundee.
“I wasn’t too sure but they said I should give it a go and see what happens. And here I am now.”
Next up for Montrose is a home Scottish Cup clash with fellow League One side Edinburgh City on Saturday before league leaders Falkirk head to Links Park next Tuesday.