Brian Rice reckons Hamilton youngster Reegan Mimnaugh is a mirror image of himself at 17 but hopes the Accies ace’s career does not end up being a copy of his own.
Mimnaugh was again the stand-out performer for Rice’s team as they claimed a valuable 1-1 draw against relegation rivals St Mirren on Saturday.
The fresh-faced midfielder might have the frame of a schoolboy but he is already showing signs that he is maturing into a top player after strolling through the battle with the Buddies.
The sight of Mimnaugh holding his own against more senior competitors had Rice reminiscing back to the early days of his own career.
After emerging at Hibs, Brian Clough saw enough in Rice to pay £175,000 to take him to Nottingham Forrest in 1985 but his time at the City Ground was not as successful as he hoped and Rice returned to Scotland six years later.
“I see a lot of myself in young Reegan – he’s left-footed, very slight,” said Rice.
“I just hope he has a better career than I did and goes on to become a better player than I was.
“I’ve got a lot of time for the kid. He never stops working in training, is always out doing extra stuff.
“First and foremost, he’s in the team on merit. I need quality on the ball and I’ll get a little bit more next season.
“But Reegan is in on merit, I can only give him the opportunity. He’s got to earn the right to be in the team and stay in the team.
“I said when I first came in when you get into these situations it’s sometimes the kids you want as they have no fear, no anxiety. They play with a freedom. I don’t mind as long as they’re confident in their ability without being arrogant and he certainly isn’t. He’s a top kid.”
Accies were looking to stretch their lead over the drop zone to seven points and things looked good after 63 minutes when Steve Davies steered home his first goal for the club from Tony Andreu’s cross.
But they held the advantage for just three minutes as St Mirren winger Anders Dreyer won a penalty after being hauled down by Ziggy Gordon before scoring from the spot.
Yet second-bottom Saints will feel it was an opportunity missed to cut 10th-placed Hamilton’s lead back to just a point after seeing Brad Lyons spurn two great first-half chances.
Boss Oran Kearney said: “He’s nearly inconsolable and is very hard on himself with his high standards.
“He has always been a double-figure scoring midfielder and is generally very strong and clam.
“We feel we’re gathering momentum but a point isn’t the end of the world. With five games left, 15 points to play for and it’s in our hands.”