Sam Rowe from Youth Football Scotland casts his eye over Falkirk’s Ryan Blair in the latest Development League scouting report.
Of the many talented youngsters plying their trade at Falkirk, Ryan Blair stands out as one to watch for the future. A true holding midfielder, his calmness on the ball and work rate off it, as well as his awareness and positioning, makes him the bedrock of the Falkirk development squad.
All these qualities were on full display against Celtic at Cappielow on Tuesday. Celtic, who won 3-2, were able to call on the likes of Carlton Cole, Scott Allan, Gary Mackay-Steven, and Tyler Blackett but Blair looked a match for each of them. He played his part in some great team defending although the Bairns were narrowly beaten in the end.
In a game where Falkirk saw little of the ball, the 19-year old showcased his natural quality in shutting down space for the opposition and preventing Celtic from playing a quick passing game.
When on the ball he was a calming presence for his team, barely putting a foot wrong with his passing and control, which was vital when it came to setting up swift counter attacks.
He’s also been chipping in himself with goals, with four for the Development League season so far. Only their top scorer, Kevin O’Hara on 10, has more for the Bairns.
A Falkirk academy graduate, Blair has already started making inroads into the first-team squad, getting a full 90 minutes against Stranraer in the Petrofac Training Cup last season.
He has made a number of substitute appearances in the Ladbrokes Championship for Peter Houston’s men and started the recent 4-1 win against Fraserburgh in the Scottish Cup.
Having recently signed a contract that will keep him at the club until 2017, the teenager is clearly a player Falkirk have faith in - if he continues to grow and perform at the level seen against Celtic this week, that faith will surely be rewarded.