Raith Rovers defender David Bates has been rewarded for impressive first team performances with a contract extension until the summer of 2017.
The 19-year-old was recalled from his loan at Brechin City in December following injuries to Lewis Toshney and Jason Thomson, and has since grabbed his chance with both hands.
The young centre-half, who hails from Rosyth, has been deployed at right back but has looked the part in an unfamiliar position, even picking up a well-deserved man of the match award against Rangers last week.
And after signing a new contract on Monday, Bates hopes he can retain his first team place for the remainder of the season.
“The contract gives me a bit of security,” he told the Press. “Since being recalled from Brechin I’ve just tried to keep my place in the team, and I think I’ve been playing well.
“It was a change moving to right back - it’s a lot harder and a lot more getting up and down.
“I still think I can get up the pitch a lot more, although against Rangers I was pegged back a lot more.
“Hopefully I can bring that into my game.”
Bates’ natural position is centre-half but he hopes his overall game will benefit from his current stint at full back.
“It gives me a wee bit versatility,” he said. “The gaffer knows that if anyone gets injured at right back I can slot in there.
“The more positions I can play the better for me.”
Ray McKinnon speaks very highly of Bates and the youngster is taking a lot of confidence from the Raith manager.
“He’s always speaking to me, and wanting me to do better,” he said.
“He’s been on at me since the start of the season to up it in training, and he’s helping me out a lot.
“All the lads at the back have been great with me as well. We’ve got a good defence - Rory, Benny, Davo and Tosh - they’re all good defenders to learn from.
“They all talk to me during games, even Cat as well, he takes me aside and tells me what I could do to be better in situations. They’re all helping me out a lot.”
Rather than looking to emulate anyone, Bates revealed that he has simply allowed his own natural style to develop during development games, and loan spells at East Stirling and Brechin.
“Things just came to me naturally,” he said. “I always just try to make sure I defend first.
“Going on loan to Brechin helped me a lot. They were playing three at the back so I was in the channel a wee bit more where you have boys coming at you and taking you on, so I learned a lot from that.”
Had it not been for his youth coach in the Raith Under 14s, Bates could still have been trying to make the grade as a striker.
“When I was younger at Hearts I was a striker,” he said. “I came to Raith at under 14s and they didn’t have a centre-half.
“They put me in, I did well, so they just kept me there for the rest of the season. It was the best thing for me.
“In training this week I wasn’t finishing that well on the shooting drills, so I don’t think I’ll go back to being a striker again.
“I’m a better defender.”
With his future resolved, Bates is hoping Dunfermline are promoted to the Championship next season so he can get one over on his grandad.
“My grandad is a Pars fan, so he doesn’t support Raith when I play,” he said.
“I was meant to play Dunfermline when I was at Brechin but I got recalled. He said he was going to slaughter me in the crowd.
“He’s always watched Dunfermline, and is always talking about them, so I would love to get one over them.”