DAVID HOPKIRK hopes his fledgling career is finally back on track after picking up the Irn-Bru phenomenal young player of the month award for October.
The 19-year-old spent the month on loan to Annan Athletic from parent club Queen of the South and scored five goals in back-to-back matches against Elgin City and East Stirlingshire to banish memories of a turbulent spell during which his time at Hamilton Academical ended acrimoniously. His reputation within the game has been sufficient for him to earn a trial at Roy Hodgson's West Bromwich Albion in January – he went down at the same time as Dundee United's Scott Allan only to suffer an injury – Cardiff City, Hearts and Rangers, but his time at Galabank has indicated he may finally be ready to fulfil his long-delayed promise.
"I made my debut at 17 in the SPL but, when I look back now, I regret a few things," he said. "But in the time I have been out I have changed my attitude and learned not to take things for granted. I don't want to talk about Hamilton; it was pretty much a breakdown in communication and it was mutual consent to leave. I went down to West Brom but I had lots of injuries, problems with my hamstrings. Then I was meant to get a contract at Hearts but they changed their minds.
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"I didn't have any money for 10 months. I was helped out by a few people, like my dad and my girlfriend; they stood by me. A lot of my family tried to get me a job but I kept working hard at my football. I am glad my luck has changed, because I was thinking of chucking it."
*Jimmy Boyle, the Airdrie United manager, gave his players the night off from training yesterday to ensure that they are fresh for the Scottish League's first Friday night fixture of the season.
They go into the match on the back of a league win at Dumbarton and 2-2 draw with Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup, giving spirits a lift after their 7-0 defeat by Partick Thistle. Boyle welcomes back David Lilley, Cameron MacDonald, Sean Lynch, all fit again, and Scott Sally following a ban.
Livingston lost 2-0 to their hosts when the sides met at West Lothian in August and their manager John Hughes, who will serve the second game of a touchline ban, will be without Scotland Under-21 cap Stefan Scougall, as well as Jason Talbot and Paul Watson, because of injury, but Kevin McCann returns after a ban. Hughes' side, without a game because they were not involved in the Scottish Cup third round on Saturday, beat Clyde 3-2 in a closed-doors game last Friday.
Prediction away win