BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Falkirk manager Peter Houston insists Peter Grant Jr is proving he is a chip off the old block – and firmly believes the Bairns babe is destined for the top.
Grant, the son of the former Celtic star, was the match-winner in midweek as Falkirk saw off Premiership opposition Partick Thistle with a hard-fought 1-0 victory.
The 20-year-old is no stranger to cup heroics after finding the net in last season’s agonising Scottish Cup final defeat against Inverness.
As well as displaying an eye for goal, Grant has emerged as a key figure in the heart of defence for Falkirk, striking up fine partnerships with David McCracken and, most recently, Paul Watson. And Houston believes his progress can be traced back to a mentality and work ethic with mirrors his father’s.
The Bairns boss lauded: “He has just got better, bigger and stronger. He lives his life like his father probably did, and I think Peter Sr has been a big influence on his life and career.
“Because of his upbringing, he knows that he needs to make sacrifices to reach the top level. He’s one of the first in, the last away, he eats right his recovery is impeccable with ice baths and things.
“He is willing to listen and learn and he is getting better and better. Peter is someone who can step up to the next level. I don’t think he is ready to go yet, but he could go a lot higher and, don’t forget, he is still eligible for Scotland under-21s.”
Houston is acutely aware that Grant and co. will need to be at their best to overcome a Dumbarton side which has started the season in bright fashion under new boss Stephen Aitken.
A plethora of new players have arrived, with Dave Mackay and Steven Ross the most recent signings this week, and they have already recorded high-profile wins over St Mirren and Hibernian.
Houston added: “They have basically had to change the entire team and Stevie [Aitken] has recruited well.
“He has done a fine job so far and seems to have given the club huge lift. This is our third game in six days and we know it is going to be a really tough one.”
Meanwhile, Falkirk number one Danny Rogers is counting on a positive reception from the Dumbarton faithful this evening after insisting he will always be grateful to the Sons of the Rock for kick-starting his career.
The 21-year-old spent last season on loan with the Championship outfit from Aberdeen, making 36 appearances and earning rave reviews for a series of sensational displays between the sticks.
He snapped up the club’s player of the year award to cement his place as a firm fans’ favourite.
However, Rogers will be charged will shutting out his former club in tonight’s televised clash – and he hopes to avoid any stick from the away section.
He said: “I had a great year at Dumbarton but hopefully we’ve got a bit too much for them.
“I got on really well with the fans there so I’ll give them a wave – and see what comes back! They seemed to like me last year so I’ll be disappointed if I get booed.
“I picked up a few player of the year awards and I’d like to think I played my part in them staying in the Championship last year.
“I’ll always be grateful to Dumbarton, I couldn’t have asked for any more from a club. They took a chance on me when I was just a kid playing under-20s football and made me a number one in the Championship.”
Despite a fondness for the Sons, Rogers is not expecting much of a reunion with former teammates, admitting the Dumbarton team is basically unrecognisable from the one he played in.
New manager Stephen Aitken has signed 16 players since replacing Ian Murray at the helm and only Scott Taggart, Jordan Kirkpatrick and Garry Fleming left over from Rogers’ last match in Dumbarton colours.
Rogers said: “It was a brilliant time – but I’ll probably only recognise about three or four players! The manager’s gone and they’ve completely cleaned out the team. It will be like a completely new team.
“However, I’ll know a few of the back-room staff and I lived with Jordan [Kirkpatrick], so I’ll drop him a wee text before the game.
“But, to be fair, they’ve started great, and the wins over Hibs and St Mirren are two we would have killed for last season.”