Dunfermline boss Peter Grant insists he is ready to put his faith in youth — after making his own Celtic debut as a fresh-faced teenager.
The Pars relied heavily on the loan market last term, utilising talented kids from across Scottish football, including Hoops pair Kerr McInroy and Ewan Henderson, Rangers’ Lewis Mayo and Hibs midfielder Fraser Murray.
And while Grant is not averse to that form of recruitment, he has vowed to give the Pars’ own academy prospects a chance to shine.
The likes of Lewis McCann — brother of St Johnstone hero Ali — Matty Todd and Paul Allan were on the fringes of the first-team last season, while 17-year-old left-back Miller Fenton is considered a top prospect at East End Park.
“We can use loan players but we also have to be careful,” cautioned Grant. “Just because a player is involved at a so-called bigger club, you might look to take them on loan — but we have some very good players of our own here.
“Lewis McCann is a young player who excites me. From afar I have really liked him and you have to make sure players like that get an opportunity. What chance will he get if we bring in too many loans?
“The young boys will get an opportunity. I have played 17-year-olds at Alloa. I don’t even look at a players’ age — if they look good enough, they are in.
“I made my debut at 18 and I don’t believe young players need to hang around until 21 or 22.
“Lewis [McCann] is one but I am sure there will be other young players hungry to take their chance.
“The phone calls will start to come now that I am in place and sometimes it surprises you who might be available. But it is important you get the right players rather than just changing it for the sake of it.”
Although no longer a fresh-faced youngster, Grant’s appointment as Pars boss will also afford him the chance to again work with Kevin O’Hara, who scored 14 goals in 35 games for his Alloa side during the 2019/20 campaign.
“I think Kevin enjoyed that with us,” smiled Grant. “At the time, he was a guy who had supposedly failed at East Fife and Stenhousemuir but I knew he had something — and you have got to trust in your players. That is when they will produce their best performances.
“This group performed exceptionally well last season but just fell at the last hurdle. This time we have to make sure we jump it.”