• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Speeding up now after a slow start . . .

CATCHING up with Ryan Fraser can be a bit of a challenge once he gets going.

Ryan Fraser says he will break the club's rules to swap shirts with one of Liverpool's superstars. Picture: Getty Images
Ryan Fraser says he will break the club's rules to swap shirts with one of Liverpool's superstars. Picture: Getty Images

It is made a little easier once he applies the handbrake.

The morning has been spent training and the teenager is parked outside Bournemouth's Goldsands Stadium, content to allow his mind to wander to the arrival of Liverpool this afternoon for a FA Cup fourth round tie before gathering his thoughts and heading for home.

His youthful enthusiasm allows him to skip blithely past the obvious perils of a match with a side fourth in the Barclays Premier League, Fraser occupied instead by its glamour. Having started his career with Aberdeen, the allure of the FA Cup was illuminated mainly by highlights on television and the 19-year-old is revelling in a chance to share the spotlight with such as Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard. "I can't wait for it, I can't wait for it," he says. "It should be good, it should be good."

Doubling up will seem natural when faced with the bigger names from Anfield, the sort which might dwarf a 5ft 4in winger who is just as short on experience. The progress he made at Aberdeen started with a few small steps, the winger making his senior debut three years ago but being made to wait until last season before he would feature regularly for the first team at Pittodrie. Fraser settled into a routine - one which complemented raw pace with moments of careful footwork - and has hardly looked back since, perhaps only to glance cheekily at the defender struggling to keep up. His momentum carried him all the way to Bournemouth last January.

It was a move he accepted with alacrity, agreeing a three-year contract in a £400,000 transfer, but which would not be easy going. His increasing prominence on the right of Aberdeen's midfield had drawn a number of robust challenges from opponents and Craig Brown would feel obliged to leave the boot in over his young winger's move south too, the former Aberdeen manager warning Fraser his growth would be stunted if he found himself playing for the reserves. One false move to Dorset and he could be lost.

That admonition would follow Fraser to the south coast of England where it manifested in self-doubt as the teenager struggled initially to force his way into a team that was promoted to the Sky Bet Championship that summer. "It was a slow start and I had been criticised by everybody, people were saying that I had made the wrong decision," said Fraser, who scored in his side's 4-1 win over Burton Albion in the last round of the cup this month.

"I was thinking that myself when I first came down here last season, when I wasn't getting a game. It was depressing. I did think that maybe I had made the wrong decision but I kept my head high and now I feel as though I've proved a few people wrong. It was a massive, massive leap but now I think that I've started more games in the Championship than I did at Aberdeen."

He was given a jump start ahead of this campaign, too. Fraser had got his head down during pre-season but looked up in time to see his name listed among the starting XI for a friendly against Real Madrid in July - the Spanish giants including big guns such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Oezil, Luka Modric and Pepe. A place among such a rich assembly would allow Fraser to feel that his own value was increasing under manager Eddie Howe and he has since been involved in all but four competitive fixtures this term. The Scot can expect to be called upon today when Liverpool roll into town.

It is a prospect which is treated at first by a maturing footballer - "It is a big ask but you never know and you just need to keep positive" - but one that has also taken hold of an excitable teenager, with Fraser permitting himself one act of youthful disobedience.

"We've been told that we are not allowed to swap shirts but I tell you, I will be swapping my shirt straight away with any player I can get," he said.

"I would like Suarez, but if I can maybe get the goalkeeper shirt or even Raheem Stirling's I won't care. They won't want mine anyway, they will be like 'Who are you?' I'll be happy to keep my shirt, too."

Following the scrutiny of his big move, Fraser has worn it well so far.

Contextual targeting label: 
Football

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

208107