They may be going into the new season as rivals not team-mates but Ayr United captain Ross Docherty has backed Liam Smith and Declan McDaid to make a big impact at our city clubs.
Right-back Liam Smith has checked in at Dundee United for the upcoming Championship campaign, while winger Declan McDaid has also left the Honest Men to link up at Dundee.
Ayr skipper Docherty rates both men very highly and expects them to shine as they battle it out for promotion from the second tier alongside his side and others.
Having experienced relegation in 2017, before winning League One and finishing fourth in the Championship last season together with Ayr, ‘Doc’ believes McDaid has experience that belies his 23 years and has proven quality.
“Declan came in at the end of our last spell in the Championship when we got relegated,” the 26-year-old said.
“He had a couple of injuries and that set him back but he kicked on when we got promoted right into finishing fourth last season and the play-offs.
“He has the pace, he is quite powerful for a winger but he can maybe do a bit more work with his final ball.
“However, when he is on it, he is unplayable and will do well for Dundee.”
With 23-year-old former Hearts and St Mirren defender Smith, midfielder Docherty believes the Tangerines have got a player on their hands.
The former Livingston and Airdrieonians man thinks he has the makings of a Premiership performer and admits Ayr boss Ian McCall was surprised to pick him up last summer.
Docherty added: “I think the manager was shocked to get him when he did.
“He was at Hearts and did well for St Mirren. I think he got in the Championship Team of the Year when they won the league in 2018 so he’s a top player.
“He was good defensively for us and got up and down all day long.
“That’s what you’re looking for from a full-back nowadays.”
Losing Smith and McDaid, along with last season’s Championship top scorer Lawrence Shankland, goalkeeper Ross Doohan and defender Michael Rose was a blow for the Honest Men.
However, Paisley-born Docherty insists with most of their squad from last season signed up, they can make a push for promotion once again.
Experienced heads like former Terror Mark Kerr, Steven Bell, Michael Moffat, Andy Geggan, ex-Dundee man Jamie Adams and Craig Moore have agreed new deals since the end of the last campaign and Docherty has warned they should not be counted out of competing at the top of the table again.
He added: “The team did so well and maybe over-achieving has cost us a little.
“With that you are going to lose a couple of players.
“The big-hitters are away but we have a lot of players signed up who know the club and what it’s all about.”
A four-season veteran at Somerset Park, Docherty has made 123 appearances for Ayr.
However, in recent times, he has been dogged by injury and has only had 23 run outs in each of the past two seasons.
He believes he has put those fitness woes behind him and aims to get himself back in the engine-room of a successful team.
Docherty added: “Last season I was coming back from injury and once the season started it was hard to get in.
“We were doing so well and I was happy to play a role but it was a bit frustrating.
“Hopefully, I can be a lot more involved in a good season this time out.”