Paul Hartley, the Alloa Athletic manager, has spoken openly about missing out on the Inverness Cale­donian Thistle job for the first time, insisting the experience will help him land a top-flight post in the future.

The former Scotland midfielder was the favourite to replace Terry Butcher in the Highlands until the surprise appointment of John Hughes last month.

Hartley confirmed that he was interviewed twice by Inverness chairman Kenny Cameron and his board of directors, before ultimately being pipped to the post by Hughes. But, despite not doing enough to convince Cameron he was the man for the job, Hartley insists that the experience of the process will be an invaluable learning curve.

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"I wasn't disappointed I didn't get the job," said Hartley. "The big thing for me was the experience of having two interviews and speaking in front of people - a board of directors, a chairman - and giving them my views.

"It was an experience which will help me find out what is required, and what is maybe needed next time to make it better. I wasn't disappointed, I was really happy for John Hughes getting the job."

It seems like just a matter of time until Hartley makes the step up to the SPFL Premiership after successive promotions from the old Third Division to the Championship with Alloa. With the club now sitting in fifth spot in the league, despite being part-time, Hartley conceded that his name "always pops up" whenever there is a vacancy in Scotland. But he is in no rush to end his apprenticeship in Clackmannanshire.

"Obviously in years to come you want to work at the highest level as possible, but you need to learn the ropes first," Hartley continued. "I've come through the leagues and you just have to be hopeful you get the chance [in the top flight] and that you are ready for it. I think I'm becoming a better manager this year in the Championship.

"I'm really happy with what I'm doing at the moment. I am under the radar a little bit and getting on with my job quietly. I am enjoying it - I'm enjoying winning games and working under a good chairman.

"My name always pops up, but the job I am doing is all about experience. I don't want to dive into something straight away.

"You should get your experience, get a good grounding and see what management is all about. Start at a low level, working under financial constraints, and working with part-time players. That experience has been fantastic for me."