Dundee boss Paul Hartley has revealed exactly why he has allowed the club’s hottest young talent Craig Wighton to go on loan to Brechin City.
The 17-year-old was farmed out to Ray McKinnon’s League One outfit last Thursday and made his debut for his new side on Saturday, coming on as a sub during the second-half of their victory at Stenhousemuir.
Hartley insists that regular games for Brechin will be key to Wighton’s development and he also used the example of a player who he previously had on loan when he was manager at Alloa, Stevie May, to illustrate what can be achieved by playing “real” football instead of trying to learn your trade with the Under-20s.
The manager said: “I think Craig needs game time and experience.
“He is only 17 and instead of playing 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there or for the Under-20s, I think he needs to go and play real football.
“I honestly think the Under-20s isn’t real football.
“I don’t think it helps the development of the players.”
“I think going out on loan to the likes of Brechin, you learn what it means to other players, you will take abuse and kicks,” said Hartley.
“I think it will do Craig the world of good and will be a great experience for him.
“I know people will say, ‘Why are you sending him out?’, well that is the reason. I also had Stevie May at Alloa on loan.
“He came into the St Johnstone team at a young age and then fell out of it and wasn’t playing. We took him for six months, he did really well and then he moved up again to Hamilton where he played for a year.
“Then two and a half years after being with us, he was an international player and had moved for nearly £1 million.
“So that’s how we are trying to help Craig as a player. We want to help him for the club as well but I see the bigger picture for him. It is not short-term I see the long-term future for him.”
Hartley also revealed why he thought Brechin were the ideal side for Wighton to go to.
He added: “Brechin enquired about him at the start of the season and I just felt they were the right fit for Craig. They play attractive football and have a good young manager.
“They are doing well in the league and have a chance of promotion. So Craig has gone out to play games and not to be a bit-part player in our first-team.
“Real football is not playing for the development team, jumping off the bus and playing. Nothing gets said to you and then you jump back on the bus.”