MARC Fitzpatrick admits he would be lying if he claimed any prescience over Jake Hastie’s rapid rise to prominence when he first clapped eyes on him at Airdrie, but the former Motherwell midfielder saw two things in the Fir Park youngster that gave him a shot of reaching the top.

First, his pace, which allowed him to burn past his League One opponents with ease during his loan spell across Lanarkshire. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, his attitude.

Fitzpatrick had recently moved into his current role as assistant manager of Airdrie when Hastie arrived as a raw 17-year-old, and while the winger displayed inconsistency of performance, he also displayed a work ethic that marked him out as a top prospect.

And with the 20-year-old now on the verge of a summer move to Rangers, Fitzpatrick is intrigued to see where Hastie’s combination of talent and exemplary professionalism can take him next.

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“You like to see that, boys who have worked hard getting the benefits of it and reaping the rewards of it,” said Fitzpatrick.

“We’ve got boys at Airdrie who are just not interested in working on that side of it in the gym or trying to build themselves up physically. We hint to them that they need that physicality, but if they don’t have the attitude to do it then they don’t have the attitude. Jake obviously did have, so fair play to him.

“The younger boys at our level who played with him should be looking at him and seeing what can be achieved.

“It’s not as if he came down and he was an absolute stand-out for us and was miles better than everybody else. He was good, but you weren’t thinking ‘this boy is Rangers material’.

“If you put that effort in and break into a first-team, you just don’t know what can happen.

“He was quite inconsistent with us, but he did have flashes of brilliance at times and his pace made him stand out in games.

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“There were times when it wasn’t quite happening for him, but I suppose that’s why Motherwell sent him down on loan, to get that inconsistency out of his game.

“He did well for us. It was a hard time at the club. But Jake’s attitude, his work ethic and his approach to it was all really good, and that’s why I’m pleased to see him doing well for himself.

“His pace was a stand-out for our level. He would just give people five yards and then burn past them.

“For a young guy, he didn’t look like a young player coming down to play in the first-team, he was physically well about himself even then.

“He has improved on that as well, he looks quite broad and quite strong, so he’s obviously been working hard on that.

“If you were to say at the time that a year later he would be on the verge of a move to Rangers though, I don’t think anyone would have expected that.

“You could see flashes of it, but it shows you how well you can do when you work hard, keep your head down and get that wee bit of luck as well.

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“When you score the goals that he has in such a short period of time, as he has done at Motherwell in the Premiership now, it catches people’s eyes and now he is on the brink of a life-changing move.

“It’s great for Motherwell that he has had the impact he has, and I’m really pleased for them. It’s a shame they won’t get to keep him for a bit longer, but I’m delighted for Jake.”

Fitzpatrick hopes that the success of Hastie, who went on to have a further loan spell at Alloa in the first half of this season before bursting into the Motherwell first-team in January, will encourage other Premiership clubs to farm the best of their young talent out on loan to continue their education.

He believes that coming up against experienced professionals, and being able to adapt to the physical and competitive demands of playing in a first-team environment, can only be to the benefit of both player and club in the long term.

“Teams at our level do rely on the loan system, so we do get hits and misses, but seeing what his loan moves have done for Jake can help strengthen the case that clubs should send their best young talent down the leagues,” he said.

“Motherwell have cottoned onto that, and hopefully more follow suit, because it helps clubs at our level and it also helps the bigger clubs to develop their players.

“We’ve had a few at Airdrie like Liam Lindsay and Scott Fraser as well as Jake, and they have gone back to their parent clubs and kicked on.

“Hopefully that can continue for us.”