Sam Cosgrove was always going to be the man for Aberdeen… all he needed was self-belief, says Danny Grainger

Sam Cosgrove (SNS Group)
Sam Cosgrove (SNS Group)

HIS time in Scotland was spent trying to stop Aberdeen players scoring.

But Danny Grainger hopes Sam Cosgrove keeps banging them in for the Dons – then nets Carlisle United a transfer windfall.

The Cumbians skipper played with Cosgrove last season until Aberdeen swooped in January.

The former Hearts, Dundee United and St Johnstone full-back instantly recognised the youngster’s raw potential.

Now he reckons Cosgrove is fulfilling it – thanks to the Dons’ management team of Derek McInnes and Tony Docherty.

“The potential has always been there with Sam, even when he was with us at Carlisle last year,” said Grainger.

“You could see he had all the attributes. It was just a case of him having the necessary belief in himself.

“Jumping from club to club – as he had been – can be hard when you’re a young player, and it can mean you don’t always have the self-belief that you should have.

“But from speaking to Paul Sheerin, who I played with at St Johnstone and is now on the Dons coaching staff, I’m told Sam is a different animal these days compared to when he first signed for Aberdeen.

“He’s got that confidence in himself, and Del and Doc will have helped him massively with that.

“I know the two of them really well from playing under them at McDiarmid Park, so I know how well they bounce off each other.

“They put a lot of belief into players and Sam is thriving in that environment.

“I’d quite happily say that Del is one of the best managers I’ve worked with.

“The man-management side of things is very good.

“He puts the hours in with players on and off the training ground and absolutely fills them with confidence.

“He makes everything enjoyable about going into training, day-in, day-out. So I’m not shocked Sam has gone up there and kicked on.

“At a club like Aberdeen there is pressure, but Sam has gone up there and he’s doing himself justice. All he needed to do was start believing in himself.”

At 32, Grainger is still starring on a weekly basis for his side.

He claimed November’s League Two Goal of the Month award for a stunning last-minute winner against Newport County, then collected December’s Player of the Month gong.

Clearly, his experience is serving him well.

It has also equipped him with a keen analytical eye for a player – which he isn’t shy in applying to Dons star Cosgrove.

“When he came in on trial, straight away you saw what he had and you thought, ‘This lad’s got a right chance of being a good player’,” Grainger offered.

“So it’s no surprise he’s gone on to do as well as he has. And he’s a good lad as well.

“He has everything, really.

“He’s big, he’s physical, he’s not slow, he can hold the ball up well, he’s aggressive, he’s good in the air and he can finish.

“When you start ticking that many boxes, you know you’ve got a chance.”

Having so many attributes also means Cosgrove is likely to become a target for clubs in England.

Aberdeen have reacted by securing the 22-year-old on a deal until 2022.

His price tag will increase accordingly.

But if he keeps hitting the net, bigger clubs will not be put off.

Grainger hopes that could mean Carlisle benefit along with the Dons.

“You can understand why Aberdeen have given him a new contract,” he said.

“A lot of players have moved on from Aberdeen over the last few years.

“You’ve got guys like Kenny MacLean, Ryan Jack and Jonny Hayes who’ve got transfers, then players like Graeme Shinnie, Scott McKenna and Gary Mackay-Steven, who teams are coming to watch.

“Sam will be catching the eye, too. So Aberdeen will be conscious of that.

“They’ve got him tied down now, which is the sensible thing to do when you’re looking a few years down the line.

“You’d think Carlisle will have a sell-on attached too, though I’ve no idea.

“I stay out of those kind of politics! But you’d like to think there will be a clause there.

“If that’s the case, great, but Sam seems happy where he is at the moment.

“He’s playing for a good club in a good league and, unless something changes drastically, there’s no reason for him to look elsewhere.”