Mark Hill closing on Hamilton Accies debut, aged 13

By Clive LindsayBBC Scotland
Hill, who hopes to be going places, in the New Douglas Park car park
Hill, who hopes to be going places, in the New Douglas Park car park

Mark Hill is pushing for a first-team debut - aged 13 - after becoming possibly the youngest to appear in a senior reserve game in Scotland.

The midfielder travelled to Dingwall with Hamilton's first-team on Saturday but did not play in the 5-1 hammering by Division One champions Ross County.

Asked about a possible top-team debut, manager Billy Reid said: "If he keeps progressing the way he is, who knows?

"But I don't even know what age you are allowed to play them at."

Reid has high hopes that Hill will follow James McCarthy and James McArthur to the big-time after emerging from the New Douglas Park youth system.

The Glasgow-born midfield duo, who have since become full internationals with Republic of Ireland and Scotland respectively, helped Accies into the Scottish Premier League before moving to Wigan Athletic.

Central midfielder Hill and 14-year-old left-footed winger Danny Armstrong featured as substitutes for Accies' second string against their Ayr United counterparts on Wednesday.

"Mark played 45 minutes for the reserves the other evening and did really, really well," Reid told BBC Scotland.

"He is a fantastic prospect and there is interest from other clubs.

"He has come in and trained with the first team a few times and done really, really well.

McCarthy and McArthur are both regulars for Wigan in England's top flight
McCarthy and McArthur are both regulars for Wigan in England's top flight

"McCarthy went straight into the first team at 15 and never came out of it, so I just hope he keeps progressing.

"We took him with us to Dingwall so he could get used to the matchday preparations as he is one who could come into the first team in future years."

Accies rejected a number of approaches from top-flight clubs in England and Scotland before finally banking nearly £2m for the sale of McCarthy and McArthur to Wigan.

Reid realises that playing Hill so young will court the kind of publicity that will have bigger clubs beating a path again to New Douglas Park.

However, while he knows that selling their young talent is the way forward financially for clubs like Accies, Reid is hopeful that Hill and Armstrong will remain at the club for several years to come.

"If big clubs come calling, we are just hoping they see sense and realise they will be given a chance here," said the manager.

"We had three 17-year-olds in the team yesterday and the average age was 21."

Comparisons will be made between Hill and the industry of McCarthy and the more cultured McArthur.

"He is a different kind of player from them," said Reid. "He has legs, his range of passing is fantastic and he scores goals from long range."

Hill and Amstrong, described by Reid as "an outstanding, massive prospect", were back playing for Accies' under-15 side on Sunday.

However, Reid had no fears about the 13-year-old, who has been with the club since the age of six, being able to mix physically with senior professionals, initially in the reserves.

"He can handle it no problem," added the manager.

"We have the reserve league cup final to come and I'm sure he'll feature."

Scottish Football League records are unable to verify whether Hill is the youngest-ever player to feature in a senior reserve game, but it is thought that former Celtic and Scotland goalkeeper Ronnie Simpson made his senior debut for Queen's Park aged 14.