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Lawrence Shankland a defender’s nightmare: where it began

Following last week’s devastating news of injury to Scotland star Lyndon Dykes causing the Aussie-born forward to pull out of the Euros, Steve Clarke has fewer experienced options at his disposal for striker throughout this week’s matches.

One man vying for the position is SPFL PFA Player of the Year Lawrence Shankland following his prolific golden-boot season at Hearts, firing his side to guaranteed European group stage football for the second year on the bounce.

The Glasgow-born youngster began his youth career at Baillieston Juniors but impressed so much that only a mere few months later, he was invited to train at Hearts’ academy.

There birthed the famous picture of a nine-year-old Shankland draped in the maroon and white that Jambos often like to share. He also had a trial spell at Rangers before finding his place at Queen’s Park.

The then amateur club has been a great producer of talent in Scotland for over a century now and that was no different for Shankland who quickly progressed through the youth ranks and made his senior debut for the club in 2012 when he was just 16 years old.

His performances at the Glasgow side started to garner attention for his goal-scoring abilities. Queen’s Park’s former head of academy David McCallum told Hearts Standard of his attacking prowess at the club.  

“He was a goal scorer back then,” he said. “I think that was his biggest weapon as a football player. It’s good to see that has not changed.”

In the coming season, Shankland would have more impact in Queen’s Park’s first team beginning to really garner attention when Rangers dropped down to League 2, where he scored off the bench against the SPFL’s then-sleeping giants.

This attention led to him being head-hunted by Scottish Premiership outfit Aberdeen who loured him up north to be part of their U20s side.

“Lawrence was great for me. As part of the U20s group, he and Cammy Smith were excellent as a pair and we won the development league,” Paul Sheerin told the Daily Mail. “But although he got a few opportunities in the first team, it just didn’t work out at Aberdeen.”

With some brilliant performances for the young Dons, he was named the club’s U20 Player of the Year. Despite earning loan spells at Dunfermline, Morton and St Mirren he could not break into the first team regularly playing just 17 games in his four-year spell.

In 2017, Ian McCall took a chance on the Glaswegian, signing him up for Ayr’s first team where he would go on to score 63 goals in 74 appearances in what would just be the beginning of a fantastic journey so far in senior football.

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