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.
Kilmarnock certainly pride themselves on providing a pathway for young footballers to break into the first team. Here is an insight into three of the Ayrshire side’s rising stars.
A product of the club’s youth system, 16-year-old Innes Cameron has bags of potential to make his mark on Scottish football. Fresh from sitting his Higher exams in May, Cameron, from Troon, was one of five academy products to recently sign a two-year modern apprenticeship with Killie. The striker broke onto the scene under the management of Lee Clark, and made his debut as a substitute in a 1-0 defeat to St Johnstone in December 2016. Having impressed for the Under 20s, the 6ft 2’ forward’s determined attitude earned Cameron a place on the bench 17 times, with the now permanent boss Lee McCulloch also showing faith in him. The former Marr College pupil was called up to the Scotland Under 17s to travel to Croatia for the European Championships, where he scored in a 2-0 victory over the Faroe Islands.
Speaking about the forthcoming season, Cameron told YFS: “Hopefully I will continue to be involved with the first team and learn from my experiences to improve the way I play.”
A more familiar name to the fans, Adam Frizzell is one of many other exciting prospects. Frizzell, from Gourock, has been on the scene since making his first appearance for the club in October 2015 against Inverness at Rugby Park. Born in January 22 1998, the 19-year-old is a dynamic, attacking midfielder who likes to get on the ball and pick that killer pass. He has made 19 first team appearances since his debut, and will hope to cement his starting place under McCulloch after impressing for Scotland Under 20s at the Toulon Tournament. Former Killie manager Clark said the one thing the youngster needed to add to his game was goals, and since his re-introduction to McCulloch’s side towards the end of the 16/17 season, he notched his first professional goal in a 3-1 defeat at Fir Park.
In Killie’s three Betfred Cup matches so far, Frizzell has operated in a central midfield position or just behind the striker. His trickery, neat footwork and ability to turn defence into attack has been obvious to see- Frizzell could be set for a terrific season.
Finally, Greg Taylor will play another key role for Killie, having secured his place at left back last season with number of consistent performances. Also from Gourock, Taylor attended Clydeview Academy, and featured in the school's 1-0 win over Mearns Castle High School in 2013 (http://www.youthfootballscotland.co.uk/component/content/article/1719-west-region-club-news/clydeview-academy-news/7121-clydeview-edge-to-paisley-schools-success.html). Taylor started his football career with St Andrews and then played with Frizzell for the Rangers youth set up, but both were snapped up by Killie’s academy following their release. Taylor was thrown in at the deep end by Clark in the Play-off Final versus Falkirk in only his second outing for the club, however the robust full back passed the test with flying colours and has gone from strength to strength. Always looking to get forward, the pacey left back is an asset when attacking as well as defending. The 19-year-old claimed the fourth best player award at the Toulon Tournament, and scored the winner in a famous 1-0 win over Brazil.
It's also worth mentioning Greg Kiltie, who will be hoping to bounce back from a succession of injuries that have halted his progression from one of Killie's brightest prospects in years to a standout player for the Ayrshire side. After a long spell on the sidelines during the season, Kiltie was carted off against Ross County with a broken ankle in the final game of the campaign. The silky attacker, who started his career with Galston Boys Club before jumping between Rangers and Killie at Pro Youth level, was forced to miss the Toulon Tournament with the Scotland Under 20s this summer, but a chance meeting with Chelsea and Belgium star - and fellow crock - Eden Hazard provided a pick-me-up for his recovery. Kiltie told YFS: "I'm getting there, nearly back walking, just taking it day by day."