BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Peter Houston insists he will not “close the door” to St Johnstone target Blair Alston if he chooses to make a dramatic U-turn on his future.
However, the Falkirk boss reckons the midfielder has made up his mind to leave the club in the summer.
Alston, who has been a standout for the Championship side this term, is out of contract at the end of the season and the Perth Saints are keen to take him to McDiarmid Park on a free transfer.
Falkirk expect further interest in their academy product – who has already made an astonishing 201 appearances for the club at the age of just 23 – as the summer approaches.
Houston accepts that Alston is keen for a new challenge after seven years in the first-team at the Falkirk Stadium, but he says an offer will remain on the table from the Bairns should he have a change of heart.
The Falkirk boss said: “I think that Blair has decided that it is time to move on. With more than 200 games under his belt, I see understand that.
“He’s a young man who was thrown into the first-team at a time when Falkirk were cutting back and it’s been the making of him. He has grown into a fine player, but now he is maybe keen to experience a new challenge and see what is out there.
“The door will never close on my side. If he comes to me at the end of the season and says he would like to stay then, of course, we will chat again, but I would say it is highly unlikely that we will be able to keep him.”
Despite the uncertainty over his future Alston has arguably been Falkirk’s most consistent performer in recent weeks, bagging three goals in his last eight outings, including a vital strike in January’s 1-1 draw against Hibernian.
Houston insists he has no problem with any player seeking to better himself – drawing on his experience of coaching the likes of Rory Loy, Morgaro Gomis and Prince Buaben prior to their departures – and has nothing but praise for Alston’s maturity and focus.
He added: “We had this with Rory [Loy], who agreed a move to Dundee, last season. It didn’t stop me playing Rory, so it won’t stop me playing Blair. I had it with Morgaro Gomis, Prince Buaben, Paul Dixon and plenty more at Dundee United.
“As a manager, the knack is to be mature about it and not go in the huff! I understand a player wanting to better themselves, play in higher leagues and earn more money. Who am I to argue with that?
“All you ask for is the same work rate and desire when the player has made their decision. Wherever he goes, Blair has gone about things the right way and will leave with our best wishes. He has been a magnificent servant to this club.”