Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson has picked out Rangers loanee Fraser Aird for praise after seeing the youngster put in another solid display in Saturday’s 1-0 home victory over the Houston Dynamo.
Aird, 21, originally joined the Whitecaps from Rangers in late January on a season-long loan with the aim of replacing departed right-back Steven Beitashour, but his lack of experience at the position showed in the MLS club’s season-opener against the Montreal Impact when he was given the run-around in a 3-2 defeat.
The Canadian utility man started the following match Sporting Kansas City on the bench as a result, but he was forced on at half-time after his replacement Jordan Smith was shown a straight red card for a rash challenge just before the break.
He was unable to prevent Robinson’s side from slipping to a 2-1 loss on the night but has since kept his place in line-up over the last two matches and looked far more assured compared to his difficult debut.
After a strong showing in last weekend’s 2-1 win over the Seattle Sounders, the converted winger impressed again in his latest start against Houston as part of a makeshift backline due to international call-ups, and his coach was full of praise for his performance.
Speaking to Vancouver’s official website, Robinson said of Aird: “Fraser had a strong performance in a makeshift backline for us. He’s good going forward. He showed that he’s an outlet for us.
“There was once, twice, I think when he missed the ball in the light or the sun, as he would probably say to me, even though there was no sun, but there’s always room for improvement, so Fraser should be proud as well.”
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Aird still had a couple of defensive hiccups on the weekend but recovered well whenever he was caught out of position and showed his attacking qualities going forward, sending in a handful of teasing crosses along with creating two chances.
The one-time capped Canadian international is now brimming with confidence ahead of facing the star-studded LA Galaxy at BC Place this coming Saturday, when he will likely have to contain Ashley Cole and Sebastian Lletget on the right flank.
“I don’t think I can get more confidence, to be honest,” Aird told Sportsnet after the Dynamo win. “But no, just being comfortable in that position, being comfortable in my teammate – and it comes with playing games.
“I know what I need to do now. I know the level of performance I can put in, playing in that position. I just need to keep it up.”
Born in Scarborough, Ontario to Scottish parents, Aird grew up supporting Rangers in Canada before moving across the Atlantic to sign with the Glasgow outfit at the age of 16.
The youngster has since made 85 total appearances for his boyhood club, recording 17 goals and 12 assists, but he was eager to go out on loan this winter after seeing his first-team opportunities become limited since the summer arrival of manager Mark Warburton.
His Vancouver spell is with a view to a permanent move at the end of the 2016 campaign, and if he continues to impress over the coming months, the Canadian club will no doubt be looking to keep him in the Pacific Northwest for the long term.