PETER GRANT and Neil Lennon are names long associated with the upper echelons of Scottish football. 

The pair both captained one of Scotland's biggest football teams, have coached at clubs on either side of the border, and spent their lives dedicated to the game.

Alloa defender Ben Stirling is among those to have had the chance to work with the duo and the 21-year-old says he can see similarities in how the pair have shaped the early years of his career. 

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It’s little wonder Lennon has gone on record with his belief that Stirling will one day make the breakthrough at Premiership Hibernian and his current boss has wasted no time in trusting him to make the grade at the Recs in the absence of more experienced heads. 

Strathallan Times: Current Celtic boss Neil Lennon was impressed with Stirling during his stint with Edinburgh club Hibs Current Celtic boss Neil Lennon was impressed with Stirling during his stint with Edinburgh club Hibs

“You have got to be ready and Peter had a good chat with me on the phone and told me there’d be an opportunity and it was up to me to take it,” Stirling told Advertiser Sport. 

“He likes to get the ball down and play and if you make a mistake he wants you just to move on.

“Everyone makes mistakes and nobody is perfect and that is brilliant to be able to work with him.

“It makes you want to try everything. Sometimes you go places and people tell you things like you will be coming off the pitch if you keep misplacing passes.

“With Peter it is different and if you make a mistake you just dust yourself down and go again.

“He’s pretty similar to Neil and both have a positive mindset and try to get the best out of you and improve your game.

“Hearing people like Neil Lennon talk you up is nice but it is obviously up to me at the end of the day to grow as a player.”

Stirling made the switch to Alloa last month in a bid to bolster Grant’s squad due to an injury to skipper Andy Graham and he has already excelled in trips to Queen of the South and Inverness Caley Thistle.

Strathallan Times: Wasps boss Grant has given Stirling the freedom to express himself Wasps boss Grant has given Stirling the freedom to express himself

But, he admits he knew what he was getting with the Wasps, having already faced them this season during his time at fellow part-timers Arbroath. 

He said: “Alloa and Arbroath are quite similar being part-time teams with most of the players working during the day and coming into training to get their mind off that.

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“You look at the teams up the top and they are all the big games you want to play in and gives you that incentive to play your best against them.

“The standard of training is brilliant at Alloa and it is much higher than what I thought it would have been.

“It is up there with what I have seen at full-time football.

Strathallan Times: Stirling says he is loving the chance to learn from the likes of Scott TaggartStirling says he is loving the chance to learn from the likes of Scott Taggart

“Then there are guys like Taggs (Scott Taggart) who talks you through every game and helps you to improve your game.

“That is so important to developing your game and it can be small things like being told where to stand on the pitch or how to approach a match.”