Nicky Hogarth: Battle with Sam Long for Falkirk number one spot is making me a better player
The Falkirk native, 22, joined John McGlynn’s side permanently this summer after a successful loan spell last season, but he has mainly been on the bench so far this campaign after suffering an injury in pre-season.
However, the roles have now reversed with fellow stopper Long currently on the treatment table – opening up the chance to claim the starting spot.
"The last few weeks have been great,” he told the Falkirk Herald. “I was going to be playing the cup (SPFL Trust Trophy 1-0 win over Queen’s Park) game anyway before Sam’s injury.
"I managed to keep a clean sheet in that one and since then I think I have done okay. You have to take your chance when it comes because Sam has been excellent since he came into the team.
"It has changed around now in the sense that I picked up an injury just before the Viaplay Cup games and that gave Sam a chance to show what he can do. But you have to be patient sometimes and just work away in training and wait for your opportunity.
"It is a team game anyway and the main thing is us winning games. I don’t mind who is starting if we are winning ever weekend.”
Scotland under-21 cap Hogarth also reckons that going up against another young goalkeeper at a similar point in their own career path is making him a better player.
He added: “I think it is great that we are at a similar point in our careers. Both of us are young and are looking to really build our experience on the pitch. That creates real competition because we both know that we need to play in order to really improve.
"We are both ambitious and we are at each other in training all of the time. It is completely different to being part of a two with an experienced, older goalkeeper. They might be in their l ate thirties and happy to take a back seat.”
A former Graeme High pupil, Hogarth is also enjoying being back home after a year with Nottingham Forest’s under-23s side.
Nicky’s brother Jay is still playing for Rangers B in net while dad Myles is Stenhousemuir’s goalkeeping coach.
"I’ve missed living alone!,” he joked. “It has been great being back in Falkirk. The transition to come back here was seamless.”