Performance director praises Bairns striker

Lyle Taylor celebrates adding to his tally against Livingston
Lyle Taylor celebrates adding to his tally against Livingston

Lyle Taylor was the difference between Falkirk and Hamilton when the sides met last month, says Mark Wotte.

The Scottish Football Association’s performance director took in last month’s meeting at New Douglas Park, which will be repeated on Saturday in the quarter-final of the William Hill Scottish Cup.

As the man charged with bringing through the next generation of Scottish football superstars, the Dutchman was delighted to see two teams averaging 23 and 20 years-old on display – but added Falkirk’s talisman made the difference on the day.

“I saw the game at Hamilton this year and the reverse fixture last year,” he told Heraldsport this week.

“There was a lot of commitment on show, and you get that in Division One, but on this occasion the striker of Falkirk (Lyle Taylor) was the difference between the two teams.

“He’s a great goal machine - unfortunately he’s not Scottish!”

Wotte was speaking to promote the Scottish Football Association’s performance school programme which includes sessions at Graeme High School.

Craig Sibbald is one recent graduate and was poised to play on Saturday - before injury struck him down this week - after he was pitched into the Bairns first-team straight from the SFA’s pilot scheme.

“Both clubs, it has to be recognised, have been struggling financially in recent years, so it has also a necessity for them - but both Billy Reid and Steven Pressley have been very brave by putting so many young players on the park,” added Wotte.

“Hopefully these boys will gain experience at first team football and move to SPL level until they are ready for the A squad or under-21s. We also have six other clubs in Scotland who are carrying Elite status and really investing in youth – and in Division One Livingston and Morton are choosing this route too. If there are clever people on club boards they should be investing in youth.

“I’ve seen good young players get good experience under good managers at both Hamilton and Falkirk, and there’s no better way to develop than by playing first team football.

“I was delighted with the number of young Scottish players on that pitch that day, that was a good thing.”