There are not many first-year pros who can include games at Ibrox, Celtic Park and against Hibs on their CV but that’s exactly what 19-year-old Ross Matthews has achieved with Raith already this season.
Rovers boss Ray McKinnon has shown his faith in the youngster, selecting him ahead of more senior midfielders at the club.
Matthews admits he is relishing the game time although he did confess that he was glad the manager left it until the last minute to tell him he would be starting against Celtic last month in the League Cup.
He found himself in direct competition to Hoops and Scotland skipper Scott Brown who left him in no doubt what he thought about a late challenge from the youngster, who hopes to be involved again at Livingston this afternoon.
Matthews said: “I’ve had a few chances this season, which I’ve been happy with.
“As a first-year pro, I was hoping to get a few games, but to play at Ibrox, Parkhead and against Hibs you can’t really ask for much more.
“I didn’t feel much pressure. The manager told me to relax and do what I have been doing. I like the bigger games to be honest because I’m a more defensive player and it gives me more of an opportunity to show what I can do.
“It was a shock to be told I was playing at Celtic Park. I wasn’t given any notice, the manager named me in the team 90 minutes before kick-off.
“I was probably glad of that, it meant I wasn’t getting nervous and obsessing about it the night before you don’t have time to be nervous.
“Scott Brown was in my ear the whole game! But it was good, I really enjoyed the battle, although Celtic could maybe have stepped up a couple of gears that day.
“I gave him (Brown) a late tackle early on in the game and he said, ‘Who’s that number 12?’. He swapped positions with Kris Commons so he was right next to me, which was interesting!
“When I missed a late chance he was the first one to come up to me . . . that wasn’t great. But it’s a learning curve and I really enjoyed it. That battle just gets you more up for the contest.”
Matthews, who turned down the chance of going to university to study civil engineering to pursue his football dream, was handed another start last week against Hibs and he revealed there were divided family loyalties at the game.
He said: “I was buzzing to play against Hibs.
“I’m from Costorphine and my dad’s side of the family is Hearts, my mum’s side is Hibs they were in the Hibs end last week with a few of my mates too.
“I was a Hearts fan growing up and played for their youth team, before leaving when I was 16.”