BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Conor McGrandles admits he has had to do lots of growing up at Norwich City off the pitch – and reckons his Falkirk friends have matured plenty on the pitch in the time he has been away.
The 20-year-old returned to the Bairns on loan this week in a bid to kick-start a fledgling career that has stalled since he made his £1 million switch south in August 2014.
However, although the midfielder has made just one substitute’s appearance for the Canaries, he is adamant he has never regretted moving away.
And he is now desperate to prove that both he and the team-mates he left behind have improved as he prepares to make a second debut for the club against Hibernian this afternoon.
Asked to assess his 18 months at Norwich, he said: “I’ve loved every minute of it.
“Even if it’s not for the football, it’s taught me a lot of life lessons, having to go and do stuff for myself – cooking, living myself and staying away from my mum.
“It was tough at the start, I had to adapt.
“I do feel that I’ve improved as a player as well, in different ways, and I’ve not regretted it once.
“At the start it was very tough because you go in and everything’s a lot quicker, at a higher tempo, and the players are really good.
“So, you have to try and raise yourself to that standard.
“It did take a bit of time to get there, to try and not look out of place at training or anything, but it was good when I got there.”
Whilst McGrandles is convinced he has come back a better player, he also believes he has returned to a team more capable of dealing with the rigours of the title race they hope to be involved in.
A victory over Hibs this afternoon would pull them three points clear of their opponents and to within three of league leaders Rangers, albeit having played a game more.
He added: “There’s been quite a lot of Falkirk games on the TV and I’ve been watching them from down there.
“I’ve been impressed. In the games I’ve watched I’ve seen two different sides of them.
“Away to Alloa, they showed they could dog it out and get results, and in the Rangers game I thought they were fantastic and on the day were probably better than Rangers.
“I’ve been really impressed with them.
“There were times when I was here previously that we didn’t get that kind of result when we had to dig it out. But this season they’ve been getting results even if they’ve been playing badly.
“I see a difference in the boys. I could see they’ve grown up as players, as well as people.”