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JOHN HUGHES reckons Falkirk abandoned Collin Samuel in his hour of need as he struggled to adapt to a new life in Scotland.


Young, alone and thousands of miles from his Trinidad and Tobago homeland Samuel was left to his own devices at night in a small flat in Falkirk town centre.

On the park he was blazing a trail through Division One but in the empty hours after training Samuel began a downward spiral of junk food and comfort eating that led to weight gain and a dip in form.

Hughes was a team-mate at the time and feels guilt that he didn't notice Samuel needed more support.

But as Yogi's Bairns face Samuel today on league duty at Tannadice he has vowed to do the one thing heCANstill offer four years down the line - not let it happen to another promising Trinidad star, 22-year-old Densill Theo bold.

Hughes said: "We made a mistake with Collin's welfare.

"We threw him in a flat thinking he could look after himself. We weren't checking on him and he was eating all the wrong foods.

"I was a player at the time. We were round about him but it's away from the club when you have to make sure they are looked after.

"Now the support network at Falkirk is second to none. It means Densill will be well treated in digs by the landlady.

"There will be a couple of other young boys in there too so if they are away playing snooker he'll be taken along and looked after.

"We're trying to do it right and are now the benchmark with regards to looking after players.

"I've seen kids not make it and not have another trade to fall back on so we want to help them learn other skills. If you want to become an accountant, on you go. We're one of three clubs in Scotland with an education welfare officer the others being Celtic and Rangers."

Hughes is delighted Samuel overcame his troubled start and recently earned an extended contract at Dundee United.

He is challenging for a place beside Bairns man Russell Latapy in T&T's World Cup squad.

New boy Theobold is also in the running after national coach Leo Beenhakker wrote a letter backing his appeal for a work permit.

Hughes said: "Sammy's a great kid and still stays in Falkirk. He has power and pace so we will have to guard against him at Tannadice.

"We are delighted to have signed another promising young international in Densill and that's thanks to Latapy's contacts in Trinidad.

"Left or right foot he's a natural, tackles well and has good fitness levels. He's so good he'll go right into the first teamalthough I don't think we'll get through the red tape in time to play him against United."