Who is Scottish football’s next big thing? Who could be the next James McFadden or Andy Robertson? Here at Youth Football Scotland we’re casting our eye over the main SPFL teams to find just who’s on the cusp of breaking out, as the kick off to the 2017-18 league season edges ever closer.
Here, our focus is on the young exciting prospects coming through at Partick Thistle.
Partick Thistle began this season in disappointing fashion, losing on penalties to Livingston in the League Cup but have bounced back in style with wins over St Mirren and Airdrieonians. Blair Spittal has been the catalyst in this upturn in form, scoring twice in the 5-0 win against St Mirren and the winner against Airdrieonains. Thistle signed Spittal from Dundee United on a two-year contract, after a three-year spell at the Tangerines. Still only 21, and after scoring three goals in his first three games for his new club, this is a real opportunity for the exciting winger as he rejoins the top flight.
Spittal began his career as he youngster at Rangers, and spent two years in the youth academy before joining Queen's Park. He attended Park Mains High School in Erskine and was selected for the Scottish Schools FA Centenary Shield squad in 2012. A month earlier, he made his first team debut for Queen's as a 16-year-old, against Montrose. He established himself as a first team regular in his second season, making 41 appearances and scoring 12 goals. Both Dundee clubs were interested in signing him but Spittal decided to follow his former team mates Aidan Connolly and Andy Roberston in signing for Dundee United, where he made 83 appearances over three seasons. Blair Spittal will now be hoping to emulate many former United players, such as Stuart Armstrong and Roberston, in being a regular for the national side and playing more consistently in the top division.
Another exciting prospect this season is Kevin Nisbet, a 20-year-old striker who is a former member of the Thistle youth academy. Nisbet made a huge impact in the Firhill side's development squad, scoring a hat-trick against Falkrik and making 18 appearances in total. He spent six months on loan at East Stirlingshire in 2015, scoring six goals in only 11 games and earning a first team debut the following season. Last season Nisbet joined Ayr United for the second half of the season, and must have impressed manager Alan Archibald as he has made three appearances already this season, albeit from the bench. He will be desperate to prove his worth this season and play a big part in the first team.
"It's a massive credit to Andy for adjusting and performing so well." This is how Alan Archibald (per BBC Sport) described teenager Andrew McCarthy after he was thrown into the starting lineup last season in a 2-2 draw against Hearts in very short notice, and the manager was mightily impressed with how the youngster coped in only his second start in the top flight. Archibald was also confident enough to hand the young midfielder his first start in early April in a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park. Still only 18, it seems that he will also have a big part to play this season for Thistle having made two substitute appearances in the League Cup this season.