The name Josh Reid was already familiar to those inside Ross County but his Monday night performance will have a few more people speaking his name.
Reid made his senior debut in County’s 1-0 win over Motherwell. The club’s Premiership opener, televised on Sky Sports, gave Reid the stage afforded to very few 18-year-old’s from Dingwall.
His display against the team who finished third in last season’s Scottish Premiership had the pundits for the game, Kris Boyd and James McFadden, praising him. The fact ‘Well manager Stephen Robinson felt the need to take off Jake Hastie because he was having little joy against Reid was a big compliment.
Stuart Kettlewell, the Ross County manager, spoke highly of Reid this summer. The club was letting two seasoned full-backs go in Richard Foster and Sean Kelly, who vied for the left-back position last season.
Having won a league title as manager of County’s under-20s, Kettlewell is fine-tuned into what is required to make the step up from youth level. It can also do no harm that his assistant Richard Brittain and first-team coach Don Cowie, both distinguished ex-County players, coached the reserves and under-18s last season.
Kevin McKie was Reid’s coach and PE teacher at Dingwall Academy. He was among many impressed observers by the kid in the number 43 jersey.
“He’s almost got a winger mindset. He’s looking to do positive things every time he gets the ball, which is maybe why he’s at first-team level now,” said McKie. “He’s not just a guy that’s being a defender and does his job. He’s trained as an attacker.
“Motherwell made a tactical change and had to do something else. They brought (Sherwin) Seedorf on while Josh was getting tired and while he got a booking late on, he held his own in a Scottish Premiership game. It’s not like he only got the last 10 minutes.”
Reid was part of a successful Dingwall Academy side and played for the North of Scotland Schools Select, an amalgam team of the best pupils in the region.
At the start of his school football days he was a forward player. It was not until he started working with the Staggies that they saw his potential as a left-back.
“When he was in first year, he was one of the stand-out players in the team that won the North of Scotland Schools Cup. He was playing up front then, in 2015.
“I took him for the under-15s and under-16s at Dingwall Academy and again he was playing up front, left midfield or centre midfield at this point. I took him for the North of Scotland Schools Select squad as well at under-15s. At that time, he was transitioning into being a left-back for Ross County and that’s where he played for me in the Select squad.
“He’s got that attacking instinct and you can see why he’s gone on and done so well. He’s got a wand of a left foot, he has tenacity, he’s up and down the pitch all the time. Even in PE, he would take it just as seriously as he would training at Ross County. He wanted to beat his mates. He always plays to win.
“As he’s got older, you could see he was getting that tenacity about him, needing to look after himself a bit more. He’s been able to play up an age-group all the way through and to play in the Premiership at 18, you have to be able to look after yourself.”
It appears County and Kettlewell will give Reid plenty of opportunities to play, learn and make mistakes. They brought in Carl Tremarco, the former captain of Highland neighbours Caley Thistle, for him to compete with but also to learn from. Tremarco, 34, runs his own soccer school away from the professional game, so he too could have a key role to play in Reid’s development.
“You can see a combination of things with a young player, who we’d love to get involved, from our academy, but we also have a vastly experienced guy that may help him along the way and certainly push him with the qualities he has on the pitch,” said Kettlewell last month of the potential partnership.
The belief is certainly there for the teenager. “I think I saw a mindset in about third or fourth year – ‘yeah I’ve got the ability, I’m going to go for this’,” added McKie. “Other guys who I know that have gone on to play professional football have all got that. You need that belief in your ability.
“He’s very easy going and in his younger years, was pretty quiet. I saw him grow in confidence on the pitch; he’d be shouting for more fouls and you could see the Ross County element in that. He never caused any problems in school and loved his PE.
“He’s one of the guys you’d talk about in assembly – ‘look what Josh Reid has gone on and done’. I’m sure he’ll come back in at some point and speak to the guys in the school.”
Few from the Dingwall area go on and establish themselves for their local side. Cowie, from nearby Strathpeffer, was the obvious exception, with his talents earning him a career that included Cardiff City, Wigan Athletic, Watford and Hearts. He came home in 2018 and transitioned from player to coach.
Home debuts last night for…
🔷Regan Charles-Cook pic.twitter.com/odZVK19GoZ
— Ross County FC (@RossCounty) August 4, 2020
Brothers Tony and Russell Dingwall both featured for the first-team but there is an opportunity in front of Reid just now to be the next local boy come good.
“Steven Ferguson (former co-manager and head of youth, now CEO) was very supportive of the Ross County boys playing schools football. He’d be on the phone and chatting to the coaches, keeping in contact. They were always very supportive of not just Josh but the other boys who have maybe been released, that have gone on to play Highland League football.
“Josh was one of the youngest ones to go full-time. He’s had that full-time training at a key age and obviously he’s got the ability. I don’t know if it would work for everyone but it’s really nice to see and hopefully this is the start of him in the first-team.
“Going that year early has really propelled his football. It’s definitely been the right shout for him.”