AS the gears start to turn again on the Wanderers production line, Dougie Freedman has described coach Jamie Fullarton as a key cog in his machine.
After a long wait to see young talent start to make an impression on the Whites’ first team, the impact made by Andy Kellett and Oscar Threlkeld at the end of last season has raised hope that more home-grown stars can follow suit.
One man who has a key say in all that is Fullarton, the former Scotland Under-21 international who has become a key right-hand man for Freedman within the club’s youth set up since he followed his countryman north from Crystal Palace.
Whilst Fullarton has maintained a relatively low public profile since coming back to the club where he made one appearance on loan as a player in 1999, his presence can be clearly heard on the touchline at Leyland when his side play in midweek.
The development squad, or reserve side in old money, appeared something of an afterthought in recent years as younger players graduated through a thriving Academy system, often to rave reviews, only to stagnate at the final juncture before first team level.
Freedman believes the second string is a vital part of the learning experience for future first teamers.
And the manager singled out the disciplinarian approach that Fullarton has taken with the club’s youngsters as an important measure in assessing whether they have what it takes to make the senior grade.
“There is a lot more detail goes into the development squad than people possibly give it credit for,” Freedman said “It is physically and mentally very tough because when a player comes through to me, it’s about fine details and coaching.
“Jamie is massively important. I always say about players, talent is not enough, it will let you down just when it matters.
“But if you’ve got the right attitude to work very hard, day in, day out, with discipline, then you have got half a chance.
“Jamie’s role is to try and weed out any things that could give me a problem when a player gets passed on to me.
“When a player comes to me, I can’t be spending half of my day coaching a kid on his attitude to training or what he’s doing off the pitch.
“I want to show him how to be a first team footballer and what’s required.
“Jamie makes sure they know what standards are expected in certain things before they can start thinking about the first team.”