JOHNSTONE Burgh have welcomed a U-turn by the Scottish FA that means under-21 players can compete in this season’s Lowland Development League.

As last season’s league was scrapped due to the Covid pandemic, the governing body was asked to extend the age limit for the 2021/22 campaign, so that players born in 2001 could compete and gain valuable experience.

However, with just weeks to go before the start of the new season, the request was knocked back, leaving almost 500 young footballers across the country in limbo.

As they would be considered ‘over-age’ for the league, they would have to pin their hopes on being promoted to their club’s first team squad or face the prospect of being released and then trying to sign for another outfit.

Now, after a social media backlash, the SFA has reversed its decision and players registered with their clubs before February 5 will be eligible to take part.

It means members of Burgh’s development set-up who would have been ineligible to play will be able to continue their football education, rather than being moved to Jamie McKim’s senior squad, where they might have struggled to get game time.

Kyle Reid, manager of Burgh’s development squad, told Gazette Sport: “These players aren’t quite ready for first team football just now but, in a year, they will be.

“In terms of their development, I think it’s better they can hang around.

“They’ll do a lot better for us than they would if they were moved to the first team squad and maybe not getting the game time they need to develop.”

Meanwhile, Burgh’s senior team have been busy preparing for the new West of Scotland Football League (WoSFL) season.

They recorded a 4-1 victory away at Vale of Leven last Wednesday and then lost 2-0 to Kirkintilloch Rob Roy at Keanie Park on Saturday.

McKim’s team were also due to be in action at home to Glasgow Perthshire last night and will welcome Kello Rovers to Keanie Park on Saturday for their final pre-season game before the start of the competitive action in the WoSFL on July 17.

Renfrew were also in action on Saturday, as they lost 3-1 at home to Neilston, and will face Troon this Saturday, also at New Western Park.