Paul Hartley hopes loan stars can emerge at parent clubs


Paul Hartley is hoping the loaned players who helped Cove Rangers last season can return to work at their parent clubs.

Cove ended the season with five players on loan from other teams – Kieran Ngwenya, Kevin Hanratty, Connor Smith, Cammy Logan and Ross Graham – as they finished third in League One.

Graham has been the most of the five for Cove and aspires to fight for a first-team spot at Dundee United.

Smith and Logan got a brief glimpse of first-team opportunities at Hearts, but manager Robbie Neilson intends to use Premier Sports Cup games as a chance for youngsters to impress.

Ross Graham challenges Kyle Connell of Airdrie in the League One play-offs.

Of the pair on loan from Aberdeen, Ngwenya made his international debut for Malawi recently against Tanzania while Hanratty signed a new long-term deal.

Hartley said: “It was good for Kieran. He’s a nice boy and it was a good experience for him to be with us. That was the whole point, to get into our environment and see what it was all about.

“It was a test of his abilities and his character, but he was a good boy to work with.

“It is the goal of young players to gain experience and enter the team of their parent club. If they can’t, they have to make a career elsewhere.

“Knowing that they’ve had the experience of playing in League One, which is a strong league with good opponents, is different from what they’ve experienced at the academy.

“We have good relations with some clubs; they know they are coming into a good environment and that they are playing football in the right way.

Cove Rangers manager Paul Hartley.

The Cove boss stressed how beneficial the experience must be for some of these young players, who may have limited playing time outside of academic football.

He said: “They know they have to win. Our boys are their livelihood. As a young player you cannot beat this experience.

“There is a huge gap between league football and college football. It’s a different game, playing against stronger opponents. It’s a revelation for them and I was satisfied with our young players.

Graham was the most important of the loan players at Balmoral Stadium, making 24 appearances during his stint from United.

He became one of the most impressive performers in the second half of the campaign, forming a strong partnership with Cove center-back Ryan Strachan.

Hartley added, “Ross was great. He received our young player of the year. He came back at the end of the year and was great to us.

“He’s a great boy and he wanted to learn. He’s a good professional and I think it’s important.


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