Malky Mackay feels the recent additions to Ross County’s youth academy can help the club maximise the potential available to them in the Highlands and Islands.
County last week appointed recently retired former Buckie Thistle striker John McLeod as their new head of academy recruitment, while Kenny Gilbert, Dave Mackay, Gary Souter and Gordon Clark are among seven further talent identification scouting recruits.
Mackay has previously spoken of his high hopes for five youngsters who have been loaned out to Highland League clubs, in the form of Matthew Wright, Adam Mackinnon, Logan Ross, Ryan MacLeman and Ben Williamson.
The Staggies boss says creating a pathway for north-based talent to break into his first team is vital for the club’s long-term success.
Mackay said: “It was something I specifically left to Steven Ferguson and Gordon Duff.
“This is a huge area, that we need to own. We need to know everything that’s going on in the Highlands and Islands, and have our fingerprint everywhere.
“I have spoken about the five players who have gone to the Highland League. What we need to do is get underneath that and really reinvigorate what’s below that.
“That’s why we have brought fresh blood into this academy and are getting it rolling again.
“This next step of having a structure in place, and have John McLeod come in, with regional scouts poring and looking for the next Ross County players, is fundamental for this club to have a longer-term strategy going forward.”
Mackay previously worked as the Scottish FA performance director, before joining County as John Hughes’ successor as manager during the summer.
The former Cardiff City and Watford manager says the identification of talent is becoming an increasingly important part of youth development.
He added: “I was heavily involved in the talent identification side of the Scottish FA four years ago when I came up into the job.
“It’s a really exciting time for that part of the industry in this country, should people want to go and do that.
“Our guys have been on the courses, and that’s something I said was a pre-requisite to Steven Ferguson, because you get the inner workings of what talent ID is. Where do you find talent, how do you source it, how do you recognise it?
“Needless to say, it’s good that our club have now got that structure.”
Mackay feels the Staggies have a duty to provide footballing opportunities to the vast catchment area they operate within, adding: “I have been reading about the regeneration of German football, and they basically went back to square one after they got put out of the World Cup in the first round.
“They said ‘let’s look at this whole thing again’. If they didn’t do that and changed the way that they found players they would never have found Toni Kroos, who was stuck up a mountain somewhere playing for a village team when he was 12.
“When I see Adam MacKinnon and Matty Wright coming from Stornoway, and boys coming from far and wide to get down here and be given that chance with their mums and dads watching and driving three hours back home, it’s incredible commitment from families and we have a part to play in that.”