Football: Bhoys' Kids Will Save the Club Millions, Says McStay.(Sport)

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Byline: JOE McHUGH

CELTIC youth chief Willie McStay has tipped Stephen Crainey and Shaun Maloney to save Martin O'Neill millions in the transfer market.

O'Neill has thrown the kids in with abandon over the last weeks of the season, in a bid to give them the first team experience they need.

The Celtic boss will shortly discover his transfer budget for next season, but McStay is hoping that his youngsters will continue to feature in the first team.

Former Celt McStay has nurtured through a crop of kids for O'Neill to pick from and would love to see one of them nail down a regular first team slot.

Crainey, Maloney and Jamie Smith all earned SPL medals on merit last term but McStay won't rest until one of his kids has established themself in the first team.

"The exciting thing for the club is that there is a batch of kids that people are talking about," McStay explained. "Not just one prospect.

"I had high hopes that Mark Burchill would become a regular but that never happened and now we have other kids ready to take their chance.

"They have all had a run to some extent but the next step is to go into the first team and stay there.

"Stephen Crainey had a good run in the season just finished and has a real chance of being that player.

"When he was younger everyone referred to him as "wee Stephen" but he's grown up and matured into a man.

"He always had the talent, we could see that, but sometimes it doesn't come to maturity until a player has developed physically.

"I spent two hours with Lubo Moravcik talking about that and what to look for in kids.

"Lubo said that it wasn't until he was 21 or 22 that most people recognised his ability but it had always been there.

"At 22 he matured physically and that allowed him to show off the talent that he has.

"That sort of thing takes patience from a coach, Stephen has come through after a year out with illness and the same sort of thing is happening with Jamie Smith and Colin Healy.

"Jamie struggled on loan at Livingston two years ago but if he went back there now he'd be exceptional.

"Over the last few months Colin Healy has filled out and is controlling games the way that he did at youth level."

Celtic ended their domestic season at Aberdeen last week with a wonder goal from Maloney to give them victory over the Dons. …