Barry Ferguson believes St Johnstone midfielder Charlie Gilmour has “got everything” needed to reach “the top of the game”.
But the Alloa Athletic manager is keeping his fingers crossed the Perth club will let him stay on loan in League One until the end of the season.
Gilmour arrived at the Indodrill Stadium in October and has been a huge hit in the third tier under former Rangers and Scotland star Ferguson.
His deal is due to end this month and the Alloa boss would love to keep the former Arsenal and Norwich City player, sidelined for Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Montrose, for a bit longer.
But if Callum Davidson recalls Gilmour, Ferguson has no doubts that he has what it takes to hit the ground running in the Premiership with Saints.
Asked if Gilmour would be ready for the step-up, Ferguson told Courier Sport:
“Yes. Selfishly I want to keep him and, for his development, it would help him to be playing every single week.
“You can see how he’s come on.
“He’s been one of our star performers and hopefully St Johnstone are happy with the job we’ve done with him.
“I’ve got to be honest, he’s an absolute joy to work with.
“He’s a player who I think has come on leaps and bounds since he’s been with us.
“Hopefully we can try and keep him here until the end of the season. I think it’s important for Charlie at the age he is (22) that he gets game after game.
“I’ll speak to St Johnstone this week and hopefully we can maybe sort something out.”
Gilmour couldn’t ask for a better tutor in the arts of controlling central midfield play than Ferguson, the best Scot in that mould of his generation.
“There were a couple of things I thought Charlie could improve on as a midfielder and that’s certainly what he’s done,” he said.
“It’s his overall game – we’ve worked on quite a few things.
“I call him a sponge. He listens and takes everything in. He wants to learn and is very level-headed. I love players like that.
“He’s been the holding midfielder for us – the guy who everything goes through.
“He was a big miss for us against Montrose.”
Gilmour represented Scotland at various age levels and made a couple of substitute appearances for Arsenal in the Europa League under Unai Emery after progressing through their academy.
“I knew of him,” said Ferguson. “He hadn’t played much for St Johnstone and had a few injury problems last season after he signed for them.
“I phoned him and said: ‘Make sure you come here and nowhere else’.
“Everybody I talked to spoke very highly of him. But until you see someone on the training pitch, you don’t know for sure.
“He’s got everything. He just needs to continue to work hard and improve.
“I’m sure he will and he’ll get back to where he wants to be, which is at the top of the game.
“I can’t speak highly enough of him.”