Stevie Mallan and Lewis Morgan (above) were the toast of St Mirren last season. The two Scotland Under-21 internationals gave supporters a reason to cheer in an otherwise depressing season which very nearly resulted in relegation to the third tier.
In the space of just a few months, however, St Mirren could lose both of their talismanic youngsters. Mallan has already gone, joining Barnsley for £300,000 – and the Scottish Sun reported in July that Morgan had his heart set on joining his close friend south of the border.
Mallan’s first few months in English football, however, should perhaps act as a cautionary tale for the in-demand Morgan. The 21-year-old has not played a single game for Barnsley’s first-team and is in danger of becoming the club’s forgotten man.
The gulf between Scotland’s second tier and the English Championship is obviously substantial. But few who watched Mallan glide past opponents and fire in wondergoals in St Mirren colours would have expected him to struggle as much as he has.
Morgan, then, should be wary about jumping into a career-changing decision in January. The Daily Record report that Barnsley’s Championship rivals Nottingham Forest are interested and, with Morgan out of contract next summer, a cut-price move is a possibility.
And while the former Rangers youngster has shone in the Scottish second division this season, netting eight times in 17 games, there is no guarantee that he will have the same impact at Forest.
Morgan is a hugely talented player, one of Scotland’s most exciting youngsters, who has the potential to play at a far higher level. Then again, people though the same about Mallan.