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Kieron Bowie has heaped praise on Fulham midfielder Kevin McDonald and credited the veteran with playing a key part in his own excellent first season in London.

Bowie admitted that he initially struggled with homesickness after making the move from Raith Rovers last summer but went on to have an outstanding first campaign in Fulham’s under 18 side. The teenage forward highlighted McDonald’s influence as a coach with the younger sides as well as his personal input into Bowie’s own development.

“Kevin is always ready to give me advice in terms of my own game, or just if I want to talk about something while we are in the gym. He’s really down-to-earth and I don’t even think of him as a coach — he’s just one of the boys, passing on his experience and leading by example on the training pitch. And he’s not lost a step, either. What a player!

“I’ve got so much respect for him and he can relate to what I’ve been through because he has been on that same journey, coming through in Scotland and then making a big move to England. Kev has been there, done it and when he speaks, you listen. He’s just a really inspirational guy, on and off the pitch. I think he’ll be a top manager if that’s what he wants to do. Sometimes on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, he’ll take our session and his knowledge of the game is unbelievable.”

Bowie revealed that he find elements of the move to London difficult at first, but now feels he has adapted well to life with Fulham.

“I struggled with homesickness a lot at the beginning. Being so far from home was really tough. I had never lived on my own; I had never been without that support from my mum in the same house. That was a big adjustment. I’m still only 18, so that was the biggest factor in the first couple of months. It’s a massive learning curve — especially away from football — and I’ve grown up a lot. When I was playing for Raith, that was my club, in my town and you feel a lot more comfortable in that situation. This was a big leap into the unknown, but I got there in the end.

Around Christmas, I started to feel a little bit more settled and find my rhythm. I was enjoying myself, started to build confidence and I was scoring goals. I kicked on from there. All the boys are top players.”

The Kirkcaldy-born youngster scored fifteen goals in twenty league appearances as Steve Wigley’s side secured a second consecutive Premier League U18 South title.

“Of course, we’ll lose games and have the odd disappointing performance, but we learn from that and the aim is for us all to become better players. But, there’s no denying that winning trophies is a nice bonus when you are trying to develop and get that winning mentality.”

Bowie’s fine first campaign with the Cottagers has been rewarded with a first call up to Scott Gemmill’s Scotland under-21 squad, which came as something as a surprise. The eighteen year-old is in line to make his debut against Northern Ireland in Dumbarton tomorrow afternoon.

“I’m incredibly proud to be in the squad — and a little bit stunned, to be honest. I’ve only been in the Scotland under-19 squad once so I never imagined I would be in the under-21s — a good two years ahead of my age group. I’m just pinching myself.

“Shaun Maloney was the guy I looked up to when I was watching Scotland as a kid. He was the man doing the bits of magic, scoring the goals and I’d watch him thinking: “I’d love that to be one day.” There’s no pressure on me because I’m just one of the younger players in the group. It’s a bonus at the end of the season and I can go, work hard and try to express myself and show what I can do.”