Holt urges Bairns to enjoy the big occasion

Gary Holt, pictured here with Stewart Murdoch, wants his Bairns team to enjoy their big day at Hampden.

Gary Holt, pictured here with Stewart Murdoch, wants his Bairns team to enjoy their big day at Hampden.

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Two television stations, at least 20,000 people and 90 minutes of football is the perfect platform for Falkirk’s young players to showcase their talents, says their new boss.

Gary Holt is gearing up for his first match in charge of the Bairns after watching the last two games from the stand following his move from Norwich City.

And on the Stirling University training ground his eyes have been opened to some of the talent within the ranks. He says the likes of Craig Sibbald, Lyle Taylor and Blair Alston can boost their profile across the border on Saturday.

“Live on TV and in front of thousands, it’s a big time for the guys and a chance for them to go play and a chance to express yourself.

“It’s about showing what they have got. Not many people down south know who’s at Falkirk.”

Holt, though, is working to ensure the significance and attention doesn’t daunt the young players, and a psychologist was drafted in this week to talk through the game with them.

Many of them have of course already sample the Hampden atmosphere when they played in last year’s League Cup semi-final against Celtic - and Holt is more than familiar with the famous ground, having played there for Scotland and Kilmarnock.

“It’s a great platform, the facilities are phenomenal,” he told Heraldsport.

“The boys have to embrace it, play football and believe they can win. If that belief is not there, I’ll be going into the game a few men short and we can’t afford that at this stage.

“It’s a mental thing, it’s a big stage and you hope their youthfulness and enthusiasm just to play football will come through.”

Holt admits he had to calm some of the intense training sessions this week, as the tight-knit squad compete for places in the team and to impress the new gaffer.

But he doesn’t appear fazed by the fact his first game in charge of Falkirk is a national semi-final.

“I’ve come into this game without the groundwork (overseeing the team in previous rounds) but I’ve watched DVDs of games this season and matches against Livingston and Cowdenbeath live.

“Managing in a semi-final is a great thing to have on your CV.”