THE Scottish Premiership has been an excellent breeding ground for young players over the last few seasons with academy graduates and foreign imports all being given a fair crack of the whip in Scottish football’s top flight. European heavyweights are happy to send out promising youngsters on loan to Celtic and Rangers to give them big-game experience; English Premier League and Championship clubs see the Premiership as a good place to blood their prospects; and due to the lack of resources available at the majority of Scotland’s top clubs, youth team players are often given an opportunity in the senior squad as teams are forced to be a little more self-reliant than clubs in other nations.

It’s always exciting for a neutral to see a young player thrive in senior football and it’s even better when you see a player from your own team’s youth academy make the step up to the professional level. Below, we’ve made up a list of some of the Premiership’s teenagers who look set to have fantastic careers either at home or further afield.

Ryan Porteous - Hibernian

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We’ve previously covered how Ryan Porteous is one of the most-improved players in the Premiership this season and the Hibernian centre back continues to go from strength to strength under Neil Lennon’s guidance. The 19-year-old was shipped out on loan to Queen of the South for the first half of last season and his time in the Championship appears to have greatly benefitted the defender.

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This season Porteous has established himself as a first-team regular and anyone who has watched the Hibernian youth academy graduate will be able to see why. Imperious in the air and capable of timing a tackle perfectly, Porteous looks to be a future Scotland international in the making and is definitely one to watch for the remainder of the season. The 19-year-old is guilty of sometimes acting too aggressively in the tackle, but team-mate Darren McGregor believes that Porteous isn’t far behind the likes of Scotland internationals John Souttar or Scott McKenna in terms of ability.

Callumn Morrison - Hearts

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Another player who has been loaned out to a lower league side before being given the nod in the Premiership, Callumn Morrison has been one of the breakthrough stars at Tynecastle this campaign. After impressing during the first half of last season on loan at Stirling Albion - scoring six goals and getting two assists in 10 appearances for the League Two club - Morrison spent the second half of the campaign in the Championship for Brechin City, making 12 appearances.

This year, Morrison has already played for Hearts on 17 occasions and looks a real threat on the right side of the Hearts attack. The 19-year-old attempts the sixth-most crosses of any Premiership player this season with a success rate of around 25%: not great, but encouraging for a player enjoying his first season in the top flight. Hearts’ young winger has also proven to be an adept dribbler of the ball, attempting 7.17 per 90 minutes with a success rate of around 70%. An exciting prospect that has so far flourished under Craig Levein’s guidance.

Lewis Ferguson - Aberdeen

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Another youngster who made our list of the Premiership’s most-improved players this season, Lewis Ferguson has taken the step up from Hamilton to Aberdeen and hardly blinked in the process. The 19-year-old has a habit of turning up in big games - he has already scored against Celtic, Rangers and in Europe for Derek McInnes’ side this season - and looks certain to follow in his uncle’s footsteps to become a Scotland international in the coming years.

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Ferguson’s passing stats only lag slightly behind that of his captain Graeme Shinnie and the future looks bright for the central midfielder. Ferguson appears to have nailed down a spot in McInnes’ starting lineup, having made 22 appearances in all competitions and the playmaker has nearly 2,000 minutes of first-team football already under his belt this season.

Glenn Middleton - Rangers

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Breaking into a side where multi-million pound signings can be made or players from top clubs can be brought in on loan is no easy task but Rangers’ Glenn Middleton is doing just that at Ibrox this season. Competing with the likes of Eros Grezda and Ryan Kent for a place in Steven Gerrard’s starting XI would be a challenge for any youngster but Middleton has put in a few eye-catching performances this season when he’s done precisely that.

Middleton started in three Europa League group stage games for Rangers this season and even scored during his side’s 4-3 defeat away to Spartak Moscow in November. Middleton’s performances have seen the winger called up to the Scotland under-19s and looks to have a promising career ahead of him. An excellent dribbler of the ball, the 19-year-old looks comfortable with the ball at his feet and his capable of skipping past an opponent. His recruitment from Norwich City’s youth team in January 2018 looks more and more shrewd with each performance.

Mikey Johnston - Celtic

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After impressing for Celtic at youth level last season - particularly in the UEFA Youth League against the likes of Anderlecht and Paris Saint Germain - left winger Mikey Johnston has been featuring regularly for Brendan Rodgers’ side recently, starting three of the last four games for the Scottish champions. A goal against Motherwell and a brace against Dundee four games later highlighted the youngster’s goalscoring ability but last month’s Old Firm was too big an ask for the Celtic youth product.

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Unlike Middleton, Johnston is more of an inside forward than a traditional winger and has always had an eye for goal at youth level. The arrivals of Timothy Weah and Oliver Burke have probably knocked Johnston down the pecking order at Celtic Park but the 19-year-old looks as if he could break into the Celtic first team in the future. A tremendous prospect, but may need a loan move to give him the gametime he needs at senior level in the short-term.

David Turnbull - Motherwell

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The latest prospect to graduate to the first team at Fir Park, David Turnbull has been one of the few bright sparks in an otherwise underwhelming campaign so far. The central midfielder failed to make an appearance during the first month or two of the season but has broken into Stephen Robinson’s starting lineup since, making six starts in December. With three goals and the same number of assists in 13 appearances, Turnbull has caught the eye and proven that he has what it take to perform consistently at this level.

The 19-year-old central midfielder has won the club’s player of the month award on two occasions already this season for Robinson’s struggling side and has previously featured for the national side at under-19 level. Turnbull is currently averaging a goal every four games for the Lanarkshire club and an assist every five; if he can keep this up, he could be the player to kick-start Motherwell’s season as they attempt to finish in the top six.

Connor McLennan - Aberdeen

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The second Aberdeen player to make our list, Connor McLennan is another youngster who appears to have benefitted following a loan spell in the Championship. The forward spent the first half of last season on loan at Brechin City before returning to Pittodrie and has made 10 appearances for McInnes’ team this campaign. Two goals and three assists is an enviable return for a player taking his first steps in top-flight football and we should expect to see more of McLennan as the season progresses.

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The 19-year-old has featured on both wings for Aberdeen this season and this versatility should only help McLennan as he attempts to get more first-team experience in the Premiership. The pacy, direct winger is already providing his team with important goals and assists and looks to have a big future at Pittodrie going forward.

Who do you think has been the most exciting prospect to break through this season? Let us know in the poll below.