Learning curve for Linlithgow ‘Bairn’

27/09/11. John Devlin. FALKIRK. Falkirk Stadium. Stirlingshire Cup. East Stirlingshire v Falkirk.
27/09/11. John Devlin. FALKIRK. Falkirk Stadium. Stirlingshire Cup. East Stirlingshire v Falkirk.

There are moments in a player’s career which can define them and make them, not only the player that they are, but the player that they can become.

For Falkirk defender Kyle Turnbull, from Linlithgow, a clash against top class English opposition in the shape of Bolton Wanderers last Wednesday, is certainly one of these moments.

At the tender age of 17, Turnbull, one of the many youngsters breaking through at the Falkirk Stadium, was thrown into the spotlight on the hour mark, desperate to make an impact under the watchful eye of manager, Steven Pressley.

The full back seemed barely overawed by the occasion, playing against a star-studded Bolton side consisting of among others, Bulgarian international Martin Petrov, English striker Kevin Davies and back from Euro 2012, Republic of Ireland’s Keith Andrews.

“It was good to get a run out against a good Bolton team and I enjoyed it,” he said.

Turnbull, brought on for Stephen Kingsley - another young full back plying his trade with the Bairns - had the unenviable task of trying to keep Trotters winger Martin Petrov quiet.

He added: “I didn’t think they were going to bring as much experience up. I thought they would’ve had a few younger boys as well, but they stuck with their starting XI, and it was good to play against guys like Petrov. You’re always learning when playing against players like that.

“It was tough trying to keep up with him, but once I got a grasp of the game, I thought I settled in well.”

But, one thing that was beyond the defender’s grasp was the Bulgarian’s shirt at full time.

“I went over to him [Petrov] at the end of the game, I was trying to get his strip but [Graham] Bowman had already got it,” he explained.

“The main focus for me this year, is to get first team appearances in the league or in the cup. It’s always good experience coming on in friendlies, and against Bolton, you can learn so much even from a half hour there.”

Though, while, he may not have got the memento he desired, perhaps he has taken away something more important from the game.

“It’s given me the confidence to know that I can play against good players.,” he added. “It’s a good start to the season for us and hopefully I can kick on from there.”

Naturally suited to playing at centre back when younger, the teenager has added more to his game and shows signs of becoming a competent full-back.

“I’ve sort of adapted to that role in the last six months,” Turnbull continued.

“I enjoy it even although it is a lot more of a shift, you have to get up and down more of the time. The gaffer promotes that a lot - to get the full-backs joining in - it’s a bit strange for me, once I get that high up the park I don’t know what to do,” he joked.

“I’ve been working on it in training, so hopefully I’ll continue to improve this year.”