GREENOCK footballer Luke McCowan has capped off a memorable breakthrough season at Ayr United by landing a new two-year deal.

The 21-year-old has been rewarded by manager Ian McCall for his stand-out displays for the Honest Men last season, including making his first league start and scoring in the Premiership play-off quarter final.

Luke, who hails from the east end of Greenock, earned rave reviews following his performance against Partick Thistle at the end of April, with ex-Morton boss McCall calling it an ‘outstanding’ display, adding that his starting 11 debut was ‘as good as I’ve seen’.

The left-footed midfielder also impressed in the play-off against Inverness Caledonian Thistle by coming off the bench and having a hand in his side’s goal in the controversial 3-1 defeat at home in the first leg.

The former Notre Dame High pupil started in the return fixture in the Highlands and scored after 19 minutes to keep Ayr’s promotion hopes alive.

While game time was limited during the campaign, when an opportunity did present itself Luke grabbed it with both hands.

It was enough to prompt McCall to offer the talented player a new two-year deal and he is absolutely delighted.

Luke told the Tele: “It’s a good vote of confidence for me.

“I was hoping for it but I worked hard for it. From the start of the season until Christmas I wasn’t really in the squad, I was like the 19th man just because of the amount of players we had and everybody was more experienced than me, so I had to bide my time and wait for my chance.

“After Christmas I was getting in the team more and luckily enough I got the odd game here and there.

“I kicked on from there really and it’s been good since.

“The manager told me a couple of months prior to getting a new contract that I was in with a chance of getting a bit of a long-term deal and told me to keep working hard and he would get back to me.”

Despite falling at the play-off quarter-final stage, the players consolidated their Championship status for next season and McCowan now hopes he’s shown enough to earn a run in the team.

Luke said: “I just want to try and play as much as I can, especially next year because it’s going to be a big year for me.

“Last season, I wanted to play well obviously for myself but I wanted to make sure the manager could trust me because he needs to know you can go on and do a job for him and not muck up.

“That’s why he plays experienced boys because he knows he can trust them, whereas bringing in a youth player or a younger player he doesn’t know if they’re going to make a mistake or if they’re going to do well so he can’t take that chance.

“Luckily enough he took that chance with me.

“He’s a good guy, he’s good one-to-one and he’s a good laugh in the changing room.

“I think I can play better because I have a sense of security now with a two-year deal. It’s massive, so I can just focus now on working hard.”

Luke is a product of the Ayr United academy and signed his first professional contract in 2017 after breaking into the first team following three years progressing through the youth ranks.

The former East End United youngster played a role in the club’s promotion to the Championship 12 months ago as they clinched the League One title — bagging himself a winners’ medal in the process.