BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Falkirk assistant James McDonaugh insists John Baird is performing at a Premiership standard – and reckons his best could be yet to come.
The journeyman striker is in the form of his life for the rampant Bairns, netting eight goals in his last four matches, including hat-tricks against Dumbarton and Alloa.
Describing the 30-year-old as a “coach’s delight”, McDonaugh believes Baird is living proof that age is no barrier to improvement, insisting he is a now a better player than the one who arrived from Queen of the South in January.
McDonaugh lauded: “I liked John from afar as a Falkirk coach when I saw him play for Queens against Rangers in a televised game, and he stood up to really experienced Rangers defenders. Despite being half he size, he has something about him and is a bit of a coach’s dream.
“It’s normally young boys who want to run non-stop, learn and impress the coaches. Well, he is 30 and is like a young boy in training.
“We were talking in the office about how he has added to his game and, although everyone talks about developing young players, John Baird has actually improved since coming to Falkirk.
“You wouldn’t think that would happen when you sign a player at that age, but he is willing to listen and work on his game and maybe his best years are still ahead of him. He is playing as well as strikers playing in the league above him at the moment.”
McDonaugh, formerly the under-20s boss at Championship rivals Hibs, was pivotal in bringing Jason Cummings to Easter Road from Hutchison Vale following his release from Hearts.
And, having seen praise lavished on the Hibs hotshot in recent weeks, he believes Baird deserves similar plaudits for his goalscoring exploits.
McDonough continued: “Jason Cummings, who I actually took to Hibs, is flourishing under Alan Stubbs, finishing as top scorer in the Championship last season. He’s doing really well with Scotland under-21s as well.
“Well, John had scored two more league goals than him, that just underlines how well he is doing.
“Even in training this week he has looked really good and is tidying up parts of his game. After his hat-trick against Dumbarton, the message I was trying to give his was to build on that and back it up.
“Strikers can hit good form at one point and then don’t find the net for a couple of weeks. But John has built on his form.”