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McCart keen to use Highland stint as stepping stone to ultimate ambition

Jamie McCart made his debut for Scotland U21's against Estonia.
Jamie McCart made his debut for Scotland U21's against Estonia.

Jamie McCart arrived at Caley Thistle fired by Brendan Rodgers’ belief he can use the loan deal to win a first-team place at Celtic Park.

The 19-year-old central defender, the son of Celtic’s head of youth development Chris McCart, agreed a loan deal through to the end of the season.

Echoing in his ears as he makes the transition from the Parkhead development squad to a first-team environment are the encouraging words of Rodgers.

McCart, long tipped as one of the academy youngsters capable of breaking through the glass ceiling at Celtic, is under no illusions as to how tough that will be.

But with just a solitary League Cup appearance under his belt to date, the youngster fully intends to use the six-month stint in the Highlands as a stepping stone to his ultimate ambition.

He said: “It’s all about playing in the top division in Scotland. That’s the highest level in this country, so it is obviously going to be a massive jump from the development league.

“Just being around the first-team environment, constantly, at a different club, learning new routines and things like that, can only benefit me.

“Celtic are obviously the biggest club in Scotland, and one of the biggest in the world, so it is going to be a challenge to break through there. But it is a challenge I look forward to.

“I always work hard every day and put in extra hours on the training ground. That’s to make sure I’m giving myself the best opportunity to break into the first team at Celtic.

“Coming here, I’ll do the same – extra hours in the gym and on the training field, just to break into that starting 11.”

If McCart had wanted an extra level of experience at the coal face of first-team football, joining a club now being widely-tipped for relegation could provide it.

But the Celtic youth academy product insists the atmosphere around the Caledonian Stadium has been far more positive than he might have expected.

He added: “To be fair, the group is very positive. It’s a great club, a great group of players.

“As soon as I came in, everyone was positive – from the manager right through the club.

“It has been brilliant so far and I can already see it paying off in terms of experience and gaining knowledge for football.

“We’re bottom of the table but two or three wins and we’re breaking into the top six. That’s how tight it is.

“Everyone in the dressing-room has full belief and it is coming down from the manager, who is always preaching positivity. Every day in training everyone is working hard to try and get that win.

“As soon as we get one, we know we can get another and build the momentum we need.”

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