David Martindale confident loanee Caleb Chukwuemeka will shine for Livingston

The on-loan Aston Villa player was handed his first start in Saturday’s 1-0 Scottish Cup fourth-round victory over Ross County.

By Press Association Published: 23 January 2022 - 8.25am

Livingston boss David Martindale is adamant that new arrival Caleb Chukwuemeka will be a success at the club – despite taking the forward off at half-time on his full debut.

The on-loan Aston Villa player was handed his first start in Saturday’s 1-0 Scottish Cup fourth-round victory over Ross County.

But the 19-year-old did not reappear for the second half after a mixed performance in the opening 45 minutes.

However, Martindale is confident that Chukwuemeka will soon adapt to the Scottish game once he settles.

Martindale, whose team will face Hearts in the last 16, said: “Let’s call it an eye-opener. He has to be more aggressive in possession.

“The boy has talent, there is no doubt about that, I’ve seen it in training. I can coach him into how I want him to play.

“He needs to work on the intensity and the fitness because you could see maybe in the transition the application wasn’t quite there.

“That’s up to me as a coach to work on that. I think he’ll be a very good player for us but as with most foreign players and also English players coming up, I think they get a massive shock.

“You’ve seen it with some top players over the years and it doesn’t quite work out for them.”

The Lions progressed courtesy of an Ayo Obileye penalty after 16 minutes following a clumsy challenge by County defender Declan Drysdale on Bruce Anderson.

County piled on the pressure after the break but failed to take their chances, with Alex Samuel and Dominic Samuel both heading wide from good openings.

County manager Malky Mackay lamented his team’s lack of cutting edge.

He said: “We started really poorly in the first 20 minutes. I wasn’t happy with that.

“We tweaked the shape slightly and came into it again in the last 15 minutes of the first half.

“My challenge in the second half was to really step on and be brave in the second half.

“We got a lot of the balls into the box and out wide. But we can’t miss two glaring headers like that if we want to win games. It was two glaring errors.

“We knew exactly how Livingston were going to be, Davie has done a terrific job here.

“I told them we had to win the first and second balls and we did that in the second half.”

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