DUNFERMLINE Athletic have named their new head of professional development at the club.

Former Hamilton Accies, Partick Thistle and Greenock Morton player John McLaughlan will head up the academy after building up his experience coaching young players at Livingston, Partick Thistle, Celtic and Hearts.

Taking over the role vacated by Greg Shields, John is keen to look at how he can help take the club forward.

“There has been a lot of good work done by Greg and the previous coaches," he said. "The academy seems to be in a good place and a lot of work goes on behind the scenes with Bill Hendry and the different staff.

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"It is just important that I come in and try and move that forward, help the players develop through my experience developed over the last 25 years.

Dunfermline Athletic have named John McLaughlan as their new head of professional developmentDunfermline Athletic have named John McLaughlan as their new head of professional development (Image: Craig Brown)

“My forte has been developing players for first teams and working in all areas across the academy spectrum. I demand a lot from the players in terms of how they play and I hope that we can become a force in creating that pathway for players into the first team.

“Every first team wants to introduce young talent that has come through the academy, not just for a game or two but for a sustained long term.

"Hopefully I can help them with the technical and tactical side of it, how they can sustain that to have the consistency to play in the first team.”

John became the coaching and development manager at Livingston Football Club in 1996, going on to manage their under 18s before moving on to Partick Thistle as reserve team manager and first team coach.

Within a year, Tommy Burns took him to Celtic in 2004/05 where he worked for 18 years working with all the age groups in the academy from under 13s up.

John was head of intermediate academy at the Glasgow side, working in the partnership school at St Ninians in Kirkintilloch for the best part of 10 years on a daily basis.

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After achieving his Pro Licence in 2014, John worked alongside John Kennedy before making the decision to leave Celtic Park and take up a coaching development manager role with Hearts.

“I decided to move there and in the first year winning three CAS cups and reaching the final of the Youth Cup which they hadn’t done for 12 years. When Steven Naismith moved up to the first team, I was asked to coach the under 18s, the B team and the women’s first team.”

Dunfermline Athletic have named John McLaughlan as their new head of professional developmentDunfermline Athletic have named John McLaughlan as their new head of professional development (Image: Craig Brown)

It isn't the first time John has worked with Pars boss James McPake – they were at Livingston for a spell together when McPake was a 16-year-old youth player.

“James was really enthusiastic about the club and encouraged me to apply," added John. "I met David Cook for an interview and I was delighted to come through the process.”

John expects to be taking the under 18s and reserve games as part of his remit as Head of Professional Development.

Friendlies for the under 18s begin at the start of July.

He continued: “I look forward to introducing new and different dimensions to training and trying to get that emphasis on real professionalism even though they are part-time and coming out of school.

"We will work on in and out of possession, finding out the fundamentals of our game and how the first team want to play. We need to look at how James wants us to adapt and then implement that at reserve and under 18 levels.”

John acknowledges that the internal rules need to be upheld, understanding the vision of the club and the culture of the club.

“You don’t stay at Celtic for 18 years if you don’t produce top players. Over that time I have played a small part in bringing on a lot of good young talent.

"A lot of talent left Scotland including Barry Hepburn went to Bayern Munich, Josh Adam went to Manchester City and Ben Doak to Liverpool. They all came through the performance school.

"It is just about trying to create a pathway for the players to get into the first team."