“THE jersey is yours to lose” was just the morale booster defender Jackson Longridge craved as he put pen to paper on a two-year deal with Livingston last month.
The former Stranraer full-back was one of the first to sign on in West Lothian after the Championship outfit’s transfer embargo was lifted six weeks ago. And manager Mark Burchill made him feel more than welcome within his new surroundings.
Longridge admits he had received interest elsewhere at the tail-end of last season – Dumbarton having also made enquiries – but the 20-year-old believes his decision to commit to Livi has so far been vindicated.
“They’ve given me the number-three shirt this season so that has really boosted my confidence,” Longridge explained ahead of tomorrow’s League Cup first-round clash with Clyde.
“I want to play as much as I can this season and, as soon as I came in, the manager [Burchill] said to me the jersey is mine to lose. Starting in the friendlies and last week in the Petrofac Cup has really helped me as well. I need to try and be consistent but I’m looking forward to the big games with Rangers, Hibs and St Mirren so it’s going to be a good league to play in this year.
“With Jason Talbot leaving for Dunfermline, that certainly helped me in my decision to come here as well. He was the captain and a very good player so I think I would have struggled (to win a starting place). But I do like the competition and fighting for your position as it keeps you on your toes.
“I think the manager is on the right path with what he’s trying to do here. There are a few decent players in and around the squad so I’ve settled in quite nicely.”
The Lions have the upper hand ahead of the second visit of Barry Ferguson’s side in the space of just seven days, the Bully Wee succumbing to a 2-1 defeat in the first round of the Petrofac Training Cup last weekend.
Goals from Danny Mullen and Myles Hippolyte secured Livi’s passage into round two where they will meet Queen of the South at Palmerston later this month.
Longridge is taking nothing for granted after last weekend, though, and is predicting a much sterner challenge from the League Two side tomorrow.
“I think the game will be a lot different to last week,” he said. “I felt they sat in too much which slowed the play down so I hope the game is more attacking. We didn’t want to play too many high balls so we were trying to find those little pockets and keep the ball on the ground. Danny and Myles have had long shots and tested their goalkeeper early so they were two great goals.
“The gaffer is wanting us to move the ball quicker and hit the strikers as early as possible so that’s what we’ll be looking to do. I’ve been really impressed since I’ve been at the club. I just can’t wait for the league season to get going now and keep that winning momentum.”