'Maybe I'll partner Shankland up front with Scotland one day' - Lyndon Dykes

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'I could do a job for Scotland' - Lyndon Dykes

Three-and-a-half years ago, Lyndon Dykes was working eight hours a day in a factory pressing badges and numbers onto sports kits back in his native Australia.

A talented young footballer with a less than professional attitude, he took a risk by moving to Scotland to try to make a living from the sport which was not even his favourite as a boy.

Now a key cog in a Livingston side that continues to defy expectations in the Scottish Premiership, the 23-year-old talks to BBC Scotland about how a bout of paralysis playing rugby league helped shape his game, lectures on shooting from Stephen Dobbie, and his international hopes.

'I wasn't committed; I was too comfortable'

Dykes' route to the Scottish top-flight was a circuitous one. Indeed, his route into football was far from straightforward.

A precocious rugby league talent who was in the sights of the National Rugby League side Canberra Raiders in his youth, Dykes also played basketball and a bit of Aussie Rules football before his uncle, himself a former footballer, introduced him to the round-ball game after moving back to the Gold Coast.

A trip with the Australian schoolboys' side to face England allowed him to visit family in Dumfries - where both his parents are from - and through a connection he earned a spot in the Queen of the South under-20 side, playing 14 times in 2014/25 before returning to Australia for two years.

It was at this point that Dykes stopped considering football as a hobby, stopped "stuffing about", and started viewing it as an escape route from the factory work,

"Friends, coaches, school teachers would try and give me a kick up the a*** and say I can become something and make a living out of it," he recalls.

"I wasn't committed; I was too comfortable enjoying myself. And it just switched one day and I thought, 'I need to put my head down and just try here'."

'Straight away we had a connection'

The results have been pretty impressive. A return to Dumfries in 2016 brought first-team football at Queens and, after initially playing as a left winger, Dykes grew into a pivotal figure at Palmerston playing just off the prolific Dobbie.

Acting as the unselfish foil while Dobbie hit an incredible 43 goals in 45 games last term, Dykes learned a lot from his strike partner, while also delivering 10 goals and 16 assists himself.

Dykes' summer departure for Livingston will not be the only factor, but Dobbie has yet to score a league goal this term, with only three so far in all competitions.

"I helped him out and he helped me out," Dykes says. "We knew where each other was going. Straight away we had a connection.

"He's even better when you see him every day and think 'how's that gone in?'. He used to get angry with me if I tried to lace the ball hard, he was always saying, 'just place it in the corners, side-foot it'."

'Rugby league helped with the physical side'

Dykes has made a similar impact in his short spell at Livingston, with four goals, two assists and a new contract one month into his spell in West Lothian.

But much like the club he plays for, he has often been labelled as one-dimensional, and physical. Although he believes he brings more than just strength, Dykes doesn't shy away from the label.

Indeed, a tale from his days playing rugby league suggests he's always relished a battle. Playing at full-back, he scythed down "some big boy" who rampaged past all of his team-mates and landed on him in the process.

Later that night, he woke up unable to move. He had to shout for his dad, who took him to hospital but, luckily, he recovered. He laughs as he considers what his rugby upbringing has added to his football.

"It helps me. When I was younger I loved to be full-back and tackling big boys and stuff, so I just had that fearless [attitude], getting roughed up.

"I bring other things to my game, too. I'm quite intelligent. But rugby league helped with the physical side.

"When you look at some of the defenders - they're a lot bigger than me. But I think they're not expecting my determination to get the ball. That helps me a lot."

'If I went into any team, I could adapt'

Dykes describes Livingston as the "perfect fit" for him. Both are robust and hard-working, with a reputation for physicality, but with underrated finer qualities.

"Livingston just have that image now. If we see the ball there, we're going to go and win it," Dykes says.

"When I got sent off at Ibrox I didn't think it was a sending off. I'm not going up to try and header the ball to injure someone, I'm just jumping and looking at the ball. Other teams do it to us but we just get on with it, unless it's bad."

His ambition too, is admirable, given where he started just a few years ago. A bigger club and an international call up are on his wish list and, though he's eligible for Scotland through his parents, his preference is for Australia - but only just.

Dundee United striker Lawrence Shankland's recent Scotland call despite playing in the Championship may just have made his international ambitions feel a bit more realistic.

"If I went into any team I think I could adapt to what they needed," Dykes says.

"Shankland deserves to be called up, you can't fault his goal-scoring. I played against him when he was at Ayr, he was great the whole season. So I hope he does well and maybe we might play with each other one day for Scotland."

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