Mikael Ndjoli believes Scottish football gives young players a chance to develop as he hils Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke

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There can be a tendancy among English fans to turn their nose up at Scottish football.

In the sea of millions being ploughed into the Premier League and beyond, the game in Scotland doesn’t get much of a second thought from our neighbours in the south.

While some wouldn’t bother themselves with the Scottish Premiership, the league has piqued the interest of young players looking to make their mark.

Bournemouth’s Mikael Ndjoli is the latest to try his luck after joining Kilmarnock on loan last week.

Mikael Ndjoli

The striker is hoping to hone his skills at Rugby Park and make a name for himself at senior level.

Despite having plenty of offers on the table, Ndjoli reckons Ayrshire seemed the best fit for him – and he also believes Scotland is the place to be for any young pro trying to make it.

“Scotland gives opportunities to young players, it’s a great place to develop,” said the 19-year-old.

“This is the best league in Scotland and you’re getting the chance to play against Rangers, Celtic, Hibs and Aberdeen.

“The experience you can get up here as a young player is not the sort of experience you can get in England.

“I think all in all the league is getting better every year. There are more players coming here, more managers who are going to the Scottish Premiership.

“It’s going in the right direction. It’s a great league to play in because you have big clubs and big opposition.

“I think over the next couple of years it will just keep on improving.”

It’s not just the opportunity to play that attracted Ndjoli, though, as he admitted the need for the right coach was also key in the decision-making process.

At his parent club, the striker works under one of the best English coaches around in Eddie Howe.

Ndjoli says the intensity of training under Steve Clarke is similar to that of Howe, with both looking to get every last bit of energy out of their players.

Clarke’s presence at Killie helped Ndjoli make his mind up and he’s hopeful of being given an opportunity under the former West Brom boss.

He said: “The manager Steve Clarke and what he brings to the club, I think that’s the kind of manager I need at this point in my career.

“One that gives young players a chance – he’s worked with numerous youngsters over the years and developed them.

“Moving forward and taking that next step in my career, it’s important to be working under the right manager and playing in the right team.

“I think Kilmarnock’s exactly what I need in my career right now.”

Ndjoli can play as an out and out striker or a winger but hopes to score goals wherever he plays on the pitch.

And in terms of learning his trade as a striker, the youngster couldn’t have any better mentor that Kris Boyd.

Mikael Ndjoli

Ndjoli added: “Even having training sessions next to a legend, I’ve taken a lot of things from him (Boyd) like how he receives the ball, how he conserves his energy out of possesion – and in front of goal he’s lethal.

“He’s a great player and I’m taking a lot from him in training.”

However he is used at Rugby Park, it’s safe to say Killie will be getting a hungry young player who is desperate to make his mark.

After a prolific season last time out for the Cherries’ U23s where he bagged 30 goals, Ndjoli will be hopeful of making the same sort of impression this season.

But he’s well aware of the need to get out to play senior football if he wants to progress.

“That’s the next step for me in terms of pushing forward in my career,” said Ndjoli.

“I’ve scored a few goals for the under-23’s and managed to travel with Bournemouth and play pre-season games on a number of occasions.

“But now it’s just a matter of taking that step forward in my career and playing for points in the league.”



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