TORONTO – Toronto FC’s newest signing Tony Gallacher says he came to Canada looking for some first-team action.
The Scottish youth international left-back arrives on loan from Liverpool where world-class full-backs are stacked like logs outside a winter hut.
“I came to play men’s football in the first team, to start my career,” the 21-year-old told reporters on Wednesday. “I want to work hard, show what I can do.
“At Liverpool under-23 you can show how good you are in games, but when it comes to first-team football it’s a huge step forward.”
England champion Liverpool is bursting with talent at full-back with 26-year-old Scotland international Andy Robertson on the left and 21-year-old England international Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right.
Welsh international Neco Williams, Greece international Kostas Tsimikas and Dutch junior international Ki-Jana Hoever wait backstage at Liverpool.
Asked about the best advice he got from Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp, Gallacher said he had yet to speak to the first team boss despite having trained with the first team.
Gallacher made his senior debut for the Reds in a 5-0 loss to Aston Villa last December in the Carabao Cup quarter-final. Liverpool have fielded a young team under Neil Critchley, with the first team in Qatar at the FIFA Club World Cup.
Toronto was only too happy to face the Glasgow native. The MLS squad is thin when it comes to specialist full-backs with veteran Justin Morrow, Brazilian Auro and Canadian Richie Laryea occupying two positions.
Anticipating a crowded and reconfigured schedule in the event of a pandemic, coach Greg Vanney wanted more back cover.
” We have seen it. He grew up as a left-back. He understands the position, ”Vanney said. “He is very comfortable in his role and understanding. Obviously coming from Liverpool, he has a good idea of what it will take for him to succeed with us.
“He’s a good passer out of position, he’s a good defender. He understands his reading and decision making on the defensive side. And he launches into the attack. He doesn’t fly up and down (the wing) like Richie per se, but he can join the attack and he’s a quality crosser.
Gallacher says TFC’s style of play under Vanney is very similar to Liverpool’s – positive attacking football.
“(He) plays football the right way, if you can say that … So for me in training that’s exactly what I usually do,” he said. “I don’t need to change the way I play, I don’t need to adapt too much to what I’ve been asked to do.”
Vanney said Toronto has an option to keep Gallacher after the season.
Liverpool acquired Gallacher in January 2018 from Scotland’s Falkirk for £ 200,000 ($ 341,695). He made his senior debut for the Scottish Championship club in November 2015 at the age of 16, becoming a regular on the first team at 18.
Gallacher will wear the No.6, which once belonged to Nick Hagglund, Gale Agbossoumonde, Julian de Guzman and Maurice Edu. He says the numbers don’t mean much to him, although his preference would have been number 3 – the traditional left-back number – which currently belongs to center-back Eriq Zavaleta.
Gallacher has also played right-back and can occupy center-back in a pinch, but says left flank is his preferred position.
The five-foot-10, 156-pounder got a screening report on Toronto from his Liverpool Under-23 teammate Liam Millar, a Canadian international.
“Too bad I won’t see much of that with the trip we’re going to be on,” said Gallacher, who had to undergo a 14-day quarantine after arriving here.
This is his first trip to North America.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 16, 2020.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press