Less than a month after impressing for Aberdeen against Celtic teenage right-back Calvin Ramsay was back helping out the Under-18s.
After facing Celtic in the Premiership, the highly-rated 17-year-old happily dropped back down to the youth levels to play in the Club Academy Scotland U18 league.
It was at the request of manager Stephen Glass and is only temporary – full-back Ramsay will be back in the first-team setup next season.
However, Glass made him drop back back down to the U18s to get valuable game time after playing just seven times in more than a year.
The U18s and reserves suffered a year of inaction due to the coronavirus pandemic and Ramsay did not get on the pitch until making his first-team debut in the 1-0 loss to Dundee United on March 20.
That first-team debut came under then-interim managers Barry Robson and Paul Sheerin.
Sheerin has since left Pittodrie to take over the managerial role at League One Falkirk.
Temporary spell in U18s will be beneficial
U18 coach Robson insists moving Ramsay back down temporarily will be hugely beneficial to the defender.
He said: “When the Premiership season finished, the manager said for Calvin to come back down and play a couple of games for the 18s.
“I think that was a great decision as Calvin had only played seven games in the last year.
“It is difficult for him to go in and play first-team games regularly when he hasn’t had a lot of games because of Covid.”
Ramsay started a number of matches for the U18s following the final game of the Premiership season, where he featured as a substitute in the 4-0 loss to champions Rangers at Ibrox.
He started in the recent 3-2 loss away to Hearts at the Oriam on May 21 as the Dons’ young guns called time on the Club Academy Scotland U18 league.
That U18 appearance came just six weeks after his first Dons start when pitched in by Robson and Sheerin in the 1-0 Scottish Cup win at Dumbarton, the first game after Glass had been confirmed as new manager.
Former Atlanta United 2 boss Glass was watching the game remotely as he had to quarantine having jetted in from the United States on the eve of the tie.
As coach with the U18 squad, Robson knew Ramsay was ready for that step up, but it was up to the teenager to prove he was.
Balance needed for rising youth with game time
Despite a man-of-the-match shift, Ramsay was on the bench for the next fixture, a 1-0 away defeat of St Johnstone in the Premiership.
Robson insists it is vital the Dons get the balance right between promoting young players into the first team, while not pushing too hard, too soon.
They have to be protected.
He said: “It is alright saying they are ready, but they have to prove that.
“When we put Calvin in against Dumbarton, it was a game we thought he could do well in.
“The following week we played St Johnstone away and that was maybe going to be a little too much for him after making his debut the week before.
“We had to be quite careful with him.
“It is alright putting young players in, but you have to do it at the right time when they are ready.
“It is not always the case of banging them in and then they play 30 games in a row.
“Sometimes they can go in for a wee bit and come out.
“The new manager knows how to deal with all that.”
Boss Stephen Glass has shown faith in Ramsay
Capped for Scotland through the various youth ranks, in January, Aberdeen tied the teenager to a long-term contract until summer 2024.
Glass has also shown faith in Ramsay and turned to the teenager in the game against Celtic, his first Premiership match in the dugout for the Dons.
Scotland U21 international Ross McCrorie suffered an ankle injury, which would end his season, in the 15th minute of the match.
Glass introduced Ramsay from the bench as McCrorie’s replacement at right-back.
It was a significant step up and different challenge from League One Dumbarton, but yet again Ramsay shone in the 1-1 draw.
Rising full-back stars on both sides of the pitch
At the other side of the pitch, left-back Jack MacKenzie has broken into the first team since the exit of former boss McInnes.
The 21-year-old has started five games and made one substitute appearance since Robson and Sheerin handed him a debut, when starting, against Dundee United in March.
MacKenzie would have started more games since that breakthrough, but he was ineligible for three Scottish Cup ties having played in the tournament earlier in the season while on loan at Forfar Athletic.
Aberdeen secured MacKenzie on a two-year contract extension in March, tying him to the club until summer 2023.
Robson said: “Calvin has moved up and is training with the first team, so Stephen will see him every day.
“It will be a chance for Stephen to see enough in Calvin and the other youngsters to play them.
“He has also seen a lot of Jack MacKenzie as well, in and around the squad.”