Dougie Wilson 'can build on Hull City debut'
BILLY Russell believes his former Hull City youth team captain Dougie Wilson has all the qualities to make a sustained impact on Steve Bruce's first team.
Wilson was handed a surprise debut in the 1-1 draw with Leyton Orient, benefiting from Bruce's wholesale changes for the FA Cup when emerging off the bench for the final 14 minutes.
The 18-year-old midfielder's breakthrough is reward for an impressive campaign in Stephen Clemence's reserve team, where his eight appearances and one goal have caught Bruce's eye.
A second opportunity could come Wilson's way in the third round replay at Orient next week, and Russell has been delighted.
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"Dougie was captain of our youth team last year where he played as a sitting central midfielder," Russell told the Mail.
"He's technically very good. He can pick a pass and he's very comfortable on the ball.
"He's a winner and he's a good lad too. He knows there's things he still has to work on, but he's a very conscientious kid who will work hard to get there.
"The challenge for any young lad is to make that breakthrough and now it's up to Dougie to keep going."
Wilson's impact was not lost on Bruce and the City boss chose to single the teenager out for individual praise after an otherwise uninspiring draw.
"It was great to see him do well," said the City boss. "He's done really well in the reserves and Stephen Clemence speaks very highly of him. It was good to see a young lad go out there and show that energy, drive and enthusiasm that not all of the players showed."
Originally hailing from County Armagh in Northern Ireland, Wilson has been on City's books since the age of 16.
Spotted through the same scouting network that has recruited fellow reserve team members Francis McCaffrey and Paul McElroy, Wilson's promise yielded a first professional contract last summer and under-19s honours with Northern Ireland.
"Dougie has been here for the last two and a half years since he came over from Northern Ireland," Russell added.
"We'd monitored him since he was 14, though, and he was involved in a tour to Spain a few summers ago. We've got a scout over in Northern Ireland who does a very good job for us and that's brought a handful of players here.
"As well as Dougie there's Fran McCaffrey and Paul McElroy too. All three of those boys have played for Northern Ireland at youth level. It's not just good for the youth set-up to see them breaking through but it's also good for all the boys to have someone to aspire to."
City's return fixture against Orient at Brisbane Road next Tuesday clashes with the Tigers' FA Youth Cup fourth round tie at Northampton, which could leave Russell's side without goalkeeper Joe Cracknell if needed as understudy to Eldin Jakupovic for a second time.