AYR United boss Lee Bullen insists youth players who put in the work "will get the opportunity" to play at the club.

The Somerset Park manager was full of praise for the club's Academy when he spoke to the Advertiser earlier this month.

A number of players have come through the youth ranks at the club in recent years, including first team regulars Mark McKenzie and Fraser Bryden.

The next crop of talent have also had a chance to shine, with 16-year-old goalkeeper Ollie Ecrepont among those who have made their debut so far this season.

It is something that has delighted manager Bullen, who believes those in and around the first team are showing vast improvement so far this season.

He told the Advertiser: “Mark McKenzie is the most experienced lad that has come through our academy, he’s now regarded very much as a first-team member.

“Thereafter you’ve got your Paul Smiths and Fraser Brydens, who are the next ones that are up there and around it with Finn Ecrepont.

“Even behind that your Scott Tomlinsons and Dylan Watrets who are just sitting in the wings, they are earning their crust at the moment, getting that experience of training day in day out with first team players.

“Even behind that, on the conveyor belt, there are two or three lads behind that who we have really high hopes for as well. Young Ollie Ecrepont, and Jamie Hyslop is playing with the Scotland national team.

“The most important thing is these first team players don’t come in and become sessions records – they come in and they feel overawed, scared to make any mistakes.

“They’ve come in a little bit nervous at the start, but you can see the massive amount of progress they have made in the first four to five months of the season."

And Bullen said that these are all players who are more than capable of stepping into the club's starting side.

He said: “The first team respect them, the first team trust them, so if we had to put any of these boys into the first team starting 11, I would have no fear for them at all.

“They’re progressing really well, getting good experience in the reserves against experienced opposition.

“The progress and work that our coaches make in the Academy is second to none and we are very lucky and blessed to have these young boys coming through.

“But they have to be good enough, they’re not just getting put in there as a token gesture.

“If they are good enough, they will get the opportunity at this football club.”