BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
PETER Houston is convinced new signing John Rankin will become a firm fans’ favourite at Falkirk.
The pair were reunited last week when Houston turned to the freed Dundee United midfielder in the wake of Will Vaulks’ departure for Rotherham United.
Rankin, who Houston signed at Tannadice in 2011, had been training with the Bairns to stay fit and was handed an instant debut in Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to St Johnstone.
The Falkirk support idolised 22-year-old Vaulks and, whilst eager to avoid comparing the two players, Houston firmly believes they will similarly come to appreciate Rankin’s whole-hearted displays.
Houston told Capital City Press: “It just so happens that when one of our best players left, he was there on tap, because I could see what his fitness levels were.
“He’s an honest guy and I’m sure, through time, Falkirk fans will love his attitude and his commitment.
“Falkirk fans are like that – they love people who work hard and play for the jersey.
“I’m sure they’ll catch on with John that he’s that type and I’m sure, given time, he’ll be a fans’ favourite as well.”
Meanwhile, Houston has defended his decision to farm out rising star Kevin O’Hara on loan – and believes the teenager could even finish the season as his number one striker.
Houston handed the marksman his first-team debut aged just 16 two seasons ago and saw him turn in some hugely impressive performances in making 16 appearances last term.
However, with an array of options in attack, including Lee Miller, John Baird, Bob McHugh and Nathan Austin, Houston has risked the wrath of the Falkirk support by sending O’Hara, now 17, to East Fife on loan.
He explained: “Kevin is a hugely talented striker, who within the year could be my number one striker, but I’ve stuck him out on loan.
“If I had to play Kevin as the main striker for four games on the trot and he didn’t score, all that love for him turns into frustration.
“The best thing for him to develop as a better Falkirk player is to have four or five months out on loan.
“Although Falkirk fans might not see it this way, I think it’s the best thing for Kevin.
“I’ve got high hopes for him in the future. It doesn’t mean because I’m putting him out there that I think any less of him.
“Who knows, he could come back in January and before the end of the season he could be my number one striker, because he’s got the ability to do that.”