BY ALAN TEMPLE, IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_Sport
Louis Longridge has set his sights on another shock promotion after joining Raith Rovers on loan.
The 24-year-old was part of the Alex Neil’s unfancied Accies side which secured a Premiership place in 2014 by defeating Falkirk 2-1 on aggregate – before seeing off Hibernian on penalties.
Longridge played 35 times during that campaign, scoring nine goals, however he has failed to shine in the top-flight and has arrived in Fife until the end of the season in search of first-team football.
He made his debut in Tuesday night’s Championship clash against Alloa and, despite succumbing to a shock 1-0 defeat, Longridge believes Rovers – currently in the final playoff berth – can emulate Hamilton’s feat.
He said: “I’ve been promoted through the playoffs before with Hamilton and it’s a good feeling.
“I think with the squad we’ve got here, with a lot of good players, we’re strong enough to get that fourth place – and then you never know in the play-offs, as we showed with Hamilton.
“We just need to get there and secure that spot, and then hopefully we can get through the stages of the play-offs and get up.”
Nevertheless, Longridge is determined to cement a starting berth at Hamilton in the long run after holding talks with Accies boss Martin Canning prior to his switch to Kirkcaldy.
He continued: “I didn’t have the best of times when we got promoted into the Premiership. I’ve been in and out, and I’ve not really had a consistent first-team spot.
“I spoke to the manager at Hamilton about going out on loan and getting more game-time.
“He told me Raith Rovers and a few other clubs were interested but this was the first club I considered, with the position they’re in in the league. I’ve played against them before, they’ve always been tricky opposition and they always play good football.
“I came to see them against Hibs at the weekend and I was impressed. My mind was made up that I wasn’t going to speak to any other club
“Hopefully I can get game-time at Raith, score goals and I can go back to Hamilton and establish myself there next season.”
With Rangers, Hibernian and Falkirk battling it out at the summit of a highly-competitive Championship, Longridge had no qualms about dropping down a division.
And he reckons the loan stint will steel him for another run at the Premiership.
The nippy forward added: “There was no hesitation in dropping down. You’ve got Rangers, Hibs, Falkirk and other teams in the league that are going to be really, really difficult games and exciting games to play in.
“It’s a good league and sometimes taking a drop down isn’t a bad thing to get the game-time, to then go back up and prepare yourself fully for establishing yourself in the Premiership.
“It’s not anything I’m down about. I’m excited and hopefully everything works to plan and I can go back and be a Premiership player next season.”