BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
JOHN HUGHES is dreaming of unearthing another “genius” like Ryan Christie after vowing to give youth a chance at Raith Rovers.
‘Yogi’ drafted 18-year-old starlet Ryan Stevenson, a graduate of the Fife Elite Football Academy, into his squad to face Hibs on Saturday after the youngster impressed during an under-20s outing against Forfar.
It was the first time Stevenson – namesake of the experienced midfielder who is also on the books in Fife – had been on the bench for the senior side.
Hughes is adamant homegrown talent must be the “lifeblood” of the club and, recalling how he spotted Christie on his second day as Inverness manager back in December 2013, he has vowed age will be no barrier to getting a crack at the first-team.
The 50-year-old said: “Everybody is in this together, whether you are playing 90 minutes, five minutes or you are a substitute. And the one thing about me is I’ll give everyone a chance.
“We had the other Ryan Stevenson in the squad against Hibs, that was his first time on the bench. Why? Because he was outstanding for the under-20s in the game I watched. He got on the ball and made passes – a good player.
“He has plenty of developing to do, but that’s the lifeblood of your club, boys like that coming through.
“Wee Yaw [Osei] was very close to being on the bench because of what I saw from him. You need to give these boys some encouragement.
“I went up to Inverness and after training on my second day I went over to watch the kids train. I saw a genius, Ryan Christie. He trained with the first-team the next again day and never looked back.
“I guarantee, we might have one or two Ryan Christies at Raith Rovers if we give them the opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Hughes has joked that he has already found a “minder” at Stark’s Park in the form of giant defender Jean Yves M’voto.
The former PSG stopper earned rave reviews for his stubborn showing against the Championship leaders at the weekend and he was named in the SPFL’s official team of the week.
And the no-nonsense Frenchman has already made an impact on his new gaffer.
Hughes told Raith TV: “I wouldn’t like to play against him, that’s for sure.
“He’s got a head like a Great Dane! In a good way. He’s my minder, I’m not daft! I come in here looking for the big guy, so I’ll keep big Jean sweet – we’re the best of mates. Any trouble, he’ll sort it out.”