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Quinn following ambition, if not the rules . . .

WHEN you're young, all it takes is one innocent, unguarded admission about where exactly you're hanging around after class to bring all sorts of bother down on your head.

Craig Quinn is confident of winning in England to push for the  Centenary Shield
Craig Quinn is confident of winning in England to push for the Centenary Shield

Craig Quinn, a 17-year-old pupil at Bearsden Academy, let slip while looking forward to tonight's Centenary Shield match between Scotland Schoolboys' Under-18 side and their English counterparts at Ewood Park that he used to defy orders from his mentors at Hamilton Academical and sneak off to join his classmates in their kickabouts.

It is to be hoped he does not find himself called into headmaster Alex Neil's office at New Douglas Park and asked to explain himself. The central midfielder's reasons were simple and really quite endearing - he just loves playing the game and wants to get the ball at his feet as much as he possibly can.

He may not have followed the rules but Quinn would certainly appear to be making his way along the right track and he is at a club with a proud record of cultivating talent. He is appreciative of the opportunity to play at schools' level, but insists Hamilton's way of doing things is suiting him to a tee.

"In the past, I wasn't able to play for my school and the club, but I always used to play anyway," said Quinn. "I am allowed to do it nowadays and that is much better. I am not allowed to play for my regional team, but I'd do that as well.

"I just want to play as much football as possible. Hamilton is a good place for me to be, though, because they focus on youth and more or less the whole team has come through the academy.

"The manager, Alex Neil, comes to every game and knows all the boys' names. It has always been like that from the days [former manager] Billy Reid was there.

"When I first went to the club, James McArthur, for example, was just getting into the first team and it is weird seeing him winning the FA Cup. It is something to inspire you."

Quinn and his Scotland team-mates have a fine chance of winning the Centenary Shield, having drawn with Northern Ireland and recorded a 5-1 win over Wales. A win over England tonight would set them up perfectly for their final match of the tournament against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin on April 24.

"I think we'll beat England," said Quinn. Here's hoping that's another statement, brimming with the confidence of youth, that does not come back to haunt him.

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