RYAN BLAIR is convinced that coming home to Falkirk can help him make the transition from Bairn to man in the English Premier League.
The 21-year-old left the Championship club two years ago to join Swansea City, where he followed in the footsteps of ex-Bairns players Stephen Kingsley, Jay Fulton and Botti Biabi.
Blair is still waiting for his first taste of top-team action down south but he played an integral part in the club’s under-23s racking up a league and cup double last season.
And, with another 18 months left on his deal in Wales, the midfielder remains hopeful he will one day emulate Kingsley and Fulton’s elevation to the first-team at Liberty Stadium.
He said: “It’s been really helpful for my career going down to Swansea. All the sports science and gym stuff has really helped me bulk up.
“And there are a lot of boys down there who are sharper and more mobile, so it’s good to compete against them.
“It opens your eyes to the standard you need to get to. Down there it’s really difficult to try to break into a first-team – it’s near-enough impossible, only one or two boys will do it.
“So, it’s been an eye-opener.
“But Stephen Kingsley and Jay Fulton did really well leaving here and going down to Swansea.
“They had a couple of loans before they broke into the first-team, so I’m just looking to do what they’ve done.
“It’s been a really good experience down there, but nothing really compares to first-team football week-in, week-out.
“So, I’ve just come here to try to get into the team and build up that experience.”
Blair’s first-team experience was limited before he left Falkirk two years ago but he did sit on the bench when the Bairns lost the Scottish Cup final to Inverness Caley Thistle in heartbreaking fashion in 2015.
It is the kind of run Paul Hartley’s new-look side would love to repeat as they travel to face Championship rivals Livingston in Tuesday’s rearranged tie.
After beating Morton 1-0 last weekend to earn a third win from their last five games, Blair added: “Hopefully we can keep up the kind of performance we put in at Morton and stick to winning ways.
“And it would be great to put together a Scottish Cup run.
“We seem to always do well in the cups, so hopefully we can do it this year again and push on.”