Martin Canning: Lewis Ferguson can be the new James McCarthy after Aberdeen winner

Lewis Ferguson and James McCarthy in Hamilton colours
Lewis Ferguson and James McCarthy have tasted success after leaving Accies

Hamilton Academical manager Martin Canning says Aberdeen's Lewis Ferguson can emulate the achievements of fellow Accies youth product James McCarthy.

Ferguson, 19, scored the winner against Rangers in Sunday's League Cup semi-final to book a place against Celtic.

He left Hamilton for the Dons in the summer and Canning can see similarities with Republic of Ireland's McCarthy.

"I think, if he continues to go the way he's going, there's no doubt he can kick on again," he said.

"He's got the mentality, the quality, the size, the physique, the knack to play well and score big goals in big games.

"He reminded me of James McCarthy. They're like 27, 28-year-old men in 18-year-old bodies.

"They've got a mind - not just in terms of their maturity but their footballing knowledge as well, which is good. I guess that's just natural."

Given the comparisons to McCarthy, who won the FA Cup with Wigan Athletic before his £13m move to Everton, Canning admits he would have liked to have kept Ferguson, who played 14 times for Accies last season, for another three or four years.

But the Lanarkshire side's boss takes pride from seeing Ferguson and other products of the club's academy, like Aberdeen centre-half Mikey Devlin, go on to achieve greater things.

"I made Michael the captain when he was 22 I think, so that tells you what I think about Michael as well," he added. "They're both good boys.

"Michael had been a great servant for us and the timing of Michael's one was right for him to move on.

"He's gone to a big club in Aberdeen, he's playing in semi-finals, he's now getting to a cup final, so when we're selling this club to young players, we give you the opportunity to play first-team football, Premiership football and, when the timing's right, you move on to a club you maybe go and win trophies at or compete for trophies at and it proves we're doing our job right.

"We've obviously lost young Greg Docherty last year to Rangers as well for good money, so the club's making money, the players are moving on, we're getting the benefit of the players while they're here."