Former Celtic midfielder Ross McLaughlin has four weeks to prove to East Kilbride that he’s worth a contract – after landing a short term deal with the help of Hoops youth coach Darren O’Dea.
The 22-year-old was riding high at Celtic Park and was part of a team that beat rivals Rangers 3-2 to win the 2019 Glasgow Cup, but injuries plagued him at the club, including a cruciate ligament injury in 2016 that kept him out for 18 months.
McLaughlin has been out of football for a while, though he had a spell in the Lowland League with East Stirlingshire, and the playmaker has now landed at K-Park, where he hopes to earn a longer deal.
McLaughlin made his debut in the 5-3 penalty shoot-out defeat to Peterhead, after holding the League One side to a 2-2 draw in the Scottish Cup fourth round.
He said: “I’m absolutely buzzing with the move to East Kilbride – it’s just getting back in to football and I’m looking forward to getting some more game-time.
“I won the 2019 Glasgow Cup with Celtic and, looking back, it was probably one of my best moments, to be honest.
“Hopefully I can get some more experiences like that of winning cups and things like that – it was one I will always remember.
“Towards the end of my period of being with Celtic I had a couple of injuries, which set me back quite a bit, but I’m getting over them and I’m looking all right now.
“It’s really good to be back playing and I’m enjoying it.
“I’ve only trained a few times and the first game was against Peterhead there, so they’re a couple of higher leagues, but we dealt with it quite well.
“It was unfortunate in the end to go out like that, but to take a team like Peterhead all the way showed how good a group of boys we’ve got.
“We’re in a good position in the table, so it’s looking like it’s going to be a decent end to the season.”
McLaughlin says it’s sometimes about who you know in football, as it was a friend with a connection to a Kilby coach who asked about a trial at K-Park.
Boss Chris Aitken then got on the phone to Darren O’Dea – who had a spell at K-Park in 2019 – received a glowing reference and brought him in.
“Whatever Darren said was good, because the manager has taken that on board, and signed me,” said McLaughlin.
“I really just need to get back in, enjoy my football and get some game-time in the park.
“I’m just looking forward to playing again and enjoying it again – that’s it.
“It’s who you know these days, so through a friend of mine who knew one of the coaches, he sent him a text and asked if I was able to come in.
“I went in a couple of times for training, and then that was me.
“We have Vale of Leithen this weekend so I want to get in and about that, get some game-time and I’m looking forward to it.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.