PETER Grant was barely old enough to join his team-mates in the pub when he made his debut for Celtic; Kris Renton was juggling football with his school studies when he became Norwich City’s youngest ever player; and youth has always been at the heart of the Airdrie boy’s footballing philosophy.

So, it’s little wonder, then, that Grant has had no qualms about bolstering his Alloa squad with a host of academy products since arriving in the Wee County dugout in the summer.

The Wasps boss famously handed former Alloa player Renton his debut for the English side and has now taken the brave decision to stick to a small core of first team players.

Despite cries from those outside the Recs of their low numbers, Grant remains firm in his opinion teenagers such as Nathan Gilhooley and Cammy O’Donnell - who both made their debuts in Saturday’s defeat to Inverness - are better options for Alloa than a host of journeymen.

“People don’t understand when they talk about a threadbare squad that we’ve got to remember these players are part-time,” Grant, 54, told Advertiser Sport.

“How many players want to be part-time? There’s no point in us taking four players to an away game to not even get stripped.

“After a period of time, they become an annoyance to the group and for the group.

“For instance, Jon Robertson was working until 4am on Saturday morning and imagine I said to him ‘you’re not stripped today’ after he broke his back to get up to the game.

“I know how I would feel and I know people say ‘oh, you’ve got a thin squad’ but that is the reason.

“They’ve got their own lives to live and their families to look after and for me to drag them around the country without using them would cause more animosity in the group.

“The young boys did very well and these guys wouldn’t have got their opportunity had I just brought in numbers to fill the jersey.”

It’s testament to Grant that he has been prepared to only add those who he feels are right for the club and its ethos from the start.

For those who didn’t fit into his plan - see Andy Stirling - he has put the club before individuals.

He said: “I’ve got to make sure the ones who are here are going to have an impact on the group and not in the wrong way; anyone who I feel would do that wouldn’t be here.

“Unfortunately, yes we do have injuries that are hurting us. But, if we had a squad of ‘also-rans’, would young Nathan or Cammy have gotten their opportunities?

“They are talented boys and these kids can play.”

O’Donnell and Gilhooley impressed despite Alloa’s disappointing Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup defeat to fellow Championship side Inverness Caley Thistle.

A misplaced pass from Gilhooley teed up Mitch Curry to open the scoring with Charlie Trafford making it two near the hour mark with a deflected strike.

Alan Trouten and Andy Graham both went close for Alloa before Matheus Machado wrapped up the tie with a close range finis from Miles Storey’s cross.

Grant said: “There’s no doubt in my mind the scoreline was flattering for them when you take into consideration the three goals.

“In general, play, we had as many chances if not more and we had three great chances ourselves.”