Talented young full-back Matthew Shiels has admitted that leaving Rangers was ‘sad’ but believes it will ultimately be beneficial for his career.
Last month, Hamilton Academical confirmed that they had snapped up the Scotland youth cap on a pre-contract agreement.
✍🏻 | Matthew Shiels signs a pre-contract agreement with the club.
— Hamilton Accies FC (@acciesfc) May 14, 2021
The 20-year-old had shown promise at age-group level and built up SPFL experience across loan spells at Edinburgh City, Dumbarton and Clyde.
However, with Borna Barisic and Calvin Bassey filling the first-choice and backup left-back roles in the first-team squad and fellow Academy starlet James Maxwell moving above him in the pecking order, there was little prospect of success for him going forward at Rangers.
He’s determined to thrive in South Lanarkshire, though, and is hoping to perform a Barisic-esque role for Accies.
“It’s sad to leave Rangers after 12 years but I think it is the best thing for my career to get first-team football,” he said [The Scottish Sun 01/05/2021, p. 48). “I’m more of an attacking left-back and I love to get forward. I used to be a striker until U18s and then Rangers moved me to left-back.”
“Graeme Murty said he wanted to try me there in one of the last games of the season and I have been there ever since. It was a wee bit of a surprise but now it was the best thing for me. I’m better coming onto the game where I can see everything in front of me.”
“I obviously watched all the Rangers games and looked up to Borna Barisic. He is a top-class player and as well as being a good defender, his crossing and deliveries are brilliant. He is someone I always looked up to and tried to take bits from his game.”
It can’t be easy to head for pastures new when Auchenhowie has been home for as long as it was for Shiels.
However, his previous loan stints will have prepared him to an extent and at Accies, he’ll be playing under a manager who is always keen to give opportunities to young players.
Automatic promotion back to the Premiership will be the target for Brian Rice’s side next season, but it will be tricky with Kilmarnock also vying to regain their top-flight status.