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Sixteen-year-old Dylan Smith impresses Malky Mackay as Staggies mentor the rising star

Fans of Premiership side Ross County have been given good reason to get excited following the recent introduction of promising centre back Dylan Smith to the first team squad. Smith, sixteen, has had little senior experience at his young age, however if your good enough, you are old enough, has been the cry in Dingwall as manager Malky Mackay has eased Smith into the fold at the Global Energy Stadium.

Staggies academy graduate Smith signed a full-time apprenticeship deal with Ross County in June of this summer, alongside three fellow academy prospects, indicating County’s commitment to nurturing homegrown talent and providing their youngsters with a clear route to senior football.

County Academy Manager, Gordon Duff, was full of pride after Smith and co were tied down to senior deals, saying: ‘’It is fantastic for all four of the boys who have worked extremely hard in their time with our academy. They are hungry and want to keep pushing themselves and this is a great platform for each of them to do so.’’

First Team Manager Malky Mackay added: ‘’It is fantastic for us to be able to offer these opportunities to our young players who have exemplified real ability with a terrific attitude. We have had the four boys with us since day one of pre-season and their focus and work ethic is of great credit to their families.’’
After coming through the ranks in Dingwall, Smith featured in his first senior squad when Ross County played against Brora Rangers in a friendly in June of this summer, filling out the substitutes bench in a match which seen County comfortably dispatch of the home side 4-1.

Smith would have to wait until the last game of August to get a taste of senior football however, as he was subbed on for the last five minutes in a match away to Rangers at Ibrox, where the Gers ran out 4-0 winners, however Smith did not look out of place and helped the keep the score-line at a minimum during his short stint on the field.

Image- Rob Casey, SNS Group

Mackay certainly has faith in his young prodigy, as Smith was again trusted to be a potential replacement against the other half of the Glasgow giants Celtic in a Premier Sports Cup tie, days following his debut for the senior side.

The former Culloden Academy pupil’s impact in Malky Mackay’s side has been merited with a taste of international action, with Smith making multiple Scotland Under-17’s squads this season and will be eager to add an international appearance to his accolades in his senior debut campaign.

Smith’s stature and level headedness at such a tender age is to be admired, and certainly has been admired by his managers at youth and senior level thus far. It will be interesting to see how many appearances Smith can rack up this season after impressing Malky Mackay already, as he aims to gain more senior experience as the Staggies will be hopeful of replicating their remarkable 21/22 campaign that seen them finish in the top six of the Premiership table for the first time 2016.



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