RYAN HARDIE still faces a battle for a first team spot despite a brace on his first start for the Light Blues.

Boss Stuart McCall was delighted by the 18-year-old’s contribution to the victory over Dumbarton but admits there is competition at this crucial stage of the season.

Hardie’s two goal performance has however ensured that he’ll be high in the manager’s thoughts ahead of next weekend’s Ibrox clash with Falkirk.

He said: “I’m delighted for Ryan of course and for the team generally. We’ll have a lot of options next week. 

“It’s horses for courses for certain games but if someone is on form and their confidence is high then it give us food for thought.

“He did what I thought he would today, and got in behind them a couple of times, but every game is different.

“We didn’t name the team until lunchtime but Ryan was playing on my mind from Wednesday. I was always going to play him in this game and I thought he could get in to certain areas of the park which he did.

“The area he scored from was exactly what we wanted from him. His second could probably have gone anywhere but he’s a goal scorer and he’s got the energy and the pace to cause problems.”

Despite Hardie’s strikes, the goal that claimed top spot in the match came from the left boot of Haris Vuckic, as he reinforced his importance to the team.

McCall added: “We had to move him on to the left today so we could get a bit more from Walsh on the right.

“I know Haris prefers being on the other side so he can cut in and do what he did, but we gave him a bit of freedom to go and get involved in the game.

“He ended up being on the right hand side, and once he cut inside it was a fantastic finish. It’s pleasing for him to be playing a key part because he brings goals to the team.”

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