Reece has no regrets over snubbing Manchester United
Published: 10 Aug 2013 08:30
REECE Hands once snubbed a scholarship from Manchester United in favour of signing for Blackburn Rovers because he felt he would have more chance of playing football at Ewood Park.
And he says it was that same desire for game time and a chance to develop that prompted him to up sticks for Scotland in order to pen a two-year deal with Morton.
The 19-year-old had other options in England, including a trial at League Two Hartlepool United, but felt that the opportunities available at Ton meant the offer was too good to refuse. Ahead of today's league opener against Cowdenbeath he revealed he is excited about the prospect of getting games under his belt and breathing new life into a career that had stalled due to injuries.
He told the Tele: "I've found playing for Morton really different. As high as academy football can take you, I don't think it can teach you lessons that you'll learn playing first-team football. I started at Sheffield United and was then basically offered a scholarship at Man United when I was 14. But I signed for Blackburn instead.
"My motto in football is that you need to play and you need to be in an environment that you can push through to the first team. When I was 14, I thought I had more chance of getting somewhere at Blackburn than I would have with Man United. I was there at Blackburn from 14 to 18. But from the ages of 16 to 18 I had loads of injuries and didn't play many games. Last year I think I only played two or three games for Blackburn through injuries and it was a bit of a disaster for me.
"It was a bit up and down with managers going in and out last year, and with me being in the last year of my contract, the gaffer at the time, Michael Appleton, said he hadn't seen me enough.
"He decided he wasn't going to renew my contract. From March onwards I was a free agent and then the chance came about here. I want to kick on now and do the best for me and for Morton."
After impressing as a trialist in Peter Weatherson's testimonial against St Johnstone, Hands signed for the club and has been an ever-present in manager Allan Moore's line-up since.
The teenager started in both the Renfrewshire Cup semi-final against Viewfield Rovers and the final against St Mirren, in which he scored his first goal for the club.
He was also handed the number eight shirt in Ton's recent cup ties against Annan Athletic and East Fife.
After a fine display at Bayview, Hands looks set to hold on to his starting slot for Ton's first Scottish Championship fixture against the Blue Brazil at Cappielow this afternoon.
And he hopes it will be the first of many league appearances over the course of a successful campaign with his new club.
He added: "I was open to anything and just really wanted to play football. When the opportunity came to come up to Morton on trial, I took it.
"Fortunately I played well as a trialist against St Johnstone and Allan rated me and thought I'd fit into his system. It all felt good really and I turned down a week's trial for Hartlepool to sign for Morton.
"Allan has put trust in me to be a part of his team, so hopefully I can do my best for him and get my career kick-started by getting games under my belt.
"I'm here for a fresh start. I'm young; I've got loads to learn, but I want to show people what I can do.
"I think I can develop into the player I want to be, a 30 to 40 games a season midfielder who'll hopefully get a few goals.
"I'm really looking forward to this season. If not this year - and I'd really like it to be this year - then next year I'd really like us to push for promotion."