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Andrew Little (born 12 May 1989) is a Northern Irish former footballer who played mainly as a forward. A versatile player, he could play in any outfield position, though preferred a more attacking role. He left Ballinamallard United for Rangers in 2006, where he turned professional the following year. He made a number of first team appearances in 2009–10, but was otherwise limited to youth and reserve team football until he won a loan move to Port Vale in August 2011. He returned to Rangers, and was a key player as they won the Scottish Third Division title in 2012–13 and the League One title in 2013–14. He signed with Preston North End in June 2014, and was loaned out to Blackpool in November 2015, and Accrington Stanley in March 2016. He was released by Preston in May 2016, and joined Stirling Albion in February 2017, where he played until May 2018. He signed with Dumbarton in July 2018, but retired in November 2018 following persistent injury problems. Having represented Northern Ireland at under-19 and under-21 levels, as well as making one appearance for the "B" team, he won his first senior cap in March 2009, and appeared nine times in total.

Club career



Rangers

A former Ballinamallard United player, he moved from Northern Ireland to Scotland in 2006 to join the Rangers Academy. He scored for the ''Gers'' in the club's Scottish Youth Cup final victory over Old Firm rival's Celtic at Hampden Park in 2008. That season he also helped the club to top the SPFL Development League. He made his senior debut as a substitute for Kris Boyd in the 3–0 win over St Mirren in the Scottish Cup semi-finals on 25 April 2009. The next month he was selected as a member of Rangers' HKFC Soccer Sevens side; he helped the side to reach the final of the tournament, where they then lost out to Celtic. On 4 October 2009, Little was given his first Rangers start against Celtic at right back, but was substituted eleven minutes in after injuring his hamstring in the opening minute of the match. He scored his first goal for the club on 23 January 2010, in a league game against Hearts which finished 1–1. Overall, he made ten appearances in the 2009–10 season. He scored his second goal for the club on 27 October 2010, in a League Cup game against Kilmarnock. The goal was later a candidate for the club's goal of the season award. However, he then missed much of the rest of the season with a hip injury that eventually required surgery to correct. Upon his recovery, Little signed a one-year contract extension in July 2011. Looking for first team football, Little went on loan at Port Vale on 31 August 2011. His loan deal was due to last until 1 January 2012, however he returned on 24 October 2011 after he suffered knee ligament damage. He made two starts and five substitute appearances for the League Two club, with his contribution at Vale Park also limited by call-ups to the Northern Ireland squad. Little played his first SPL game of the 2011–12 season on 26 February, and justified Ally McCoist's selection at the Caledonian Stadium by scoring in a 4–1 win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle. On 26 March, he came off the bench to score with his first touch in a 3–2 home win over Celtic. On 21 April, he scored a brace in a 3–0 win over Hearts at Tynecastle. He was able to leave Rangers following the club's financial meltdown and expulsion from the SPL, but instead signed a new contract with the club in July 2012, having decided to stay and try to help Rangers to win promotion out of the Third Division. He agreed to sign the two-year contract (with the option for a third year) after McCoist reassured him that he had big part to play in the club's promotion campaign, and also after Michael O'Neill reassured him that playing in the Third Division would not damage his international prospects. He scored four minutes into the 2012–13 season, in a Scottish Challenge Cup victory over Brechin City. He scored his first hat-trick at Ibrox on 18 August, in a 5–1 win over East Stirlingshire. With five goals to his name, Little won the SFL ''Ginger Boot'' (top goalscorer award) for August 2012. Rangers secured the Third Division title by a comfortable margin, and were confirmed as champions on 30 March. Little was voted onto the PFA Scotland Team of the Year for the Third Division, alongside teammates Lee McCulloch, Lee Wallace, and David Templeton. Rangers won the League One title in 2013–14, though Little missed much of the campaign after breaking his cheekbone and jaw in a collision with Dunfermline Athletic full-back Alex Whittle in November. He was released from Rangers in May 2014 after being informed that he was no longer a part of manager Ally McCoist's first team plans.

Preston North End

Little signed a two-year contract with League One side Preston North End in June 2014; "Lilywhites" manager Simon Grayson stated that "I am delighted that he has chosen us over quite a few other teams". He was limited to 12 league appearances in the 2014–15 campaign as Preston won promotion into the Championship through the play-offs. Little joined League One side Blackpool on a six-week loan deal on 17 November 2015, which was later extended by a further month. On 24 March, he joined Accrington Stanley of League Two on loan until the end of the 2015–16 campaign; manager John Coleman said "Andy's suffered with injuries this year so this is a chance for him to get some football and get himself back on track". He never featured for Accrington however, and was released by Preston at the end of the season.

Stirling Albion

After several months out of football, Little signed for Scottish League Two club Stirling Albion on a short-term contract in February 2017. He was hospitalised on 11 April after an accidental clash of heads during training left him with a fractured skull and eye socket. Little was released by Albion at the end of the season, with manager Dave Mackay expressing his desire to have a smaller squad for the 2017–18 season. Little rejoined Stirling on a one-year contract. However he was unable to feature for the ''Binos'' during the first half of the season as he had not yet fully recovered from his head injury. Little left Forthbank Stadium following the end of this contract in May 2018.

Dumbarton

After impressing during a trial period, Little signed a short-term deal with Scottish League One side Dumbarton in July 2018. He left the club and retired from football in November 2018 after making 11 appearances for the ''Sons''.

International career

Little won eleven caps for the Northern Ireland under-19s, scoring four goals, including one in the 2008 Milk Cup final victory over Chile. He then moved up to the under-21 side, where he made four appearances, scoring against Scotland and twice against San Marino. He won a cap for the "B team" against Scotland in 2009. Little made his debut for the senior team on 28 March 2009 in a 2010 World Cup qualifier against Poland; he replaced David Healy in the 90th minute of the match and Northern Ireland went on to win 3–2. He picked up further caps in friendlies against Italy, Albania, Turkey, and Chile.

Coaching career

Little returned to Rangers in May 2017 as a part-time coach in the club's Academy.

Style of play

A utility player, Little could play anywhere in defence and midfield, and could also be used as a striker.

Personal life

Little's older brother Graham is a presenter for Sky Sports.

Career statistics



Club



International



Honours



Club

;Rangers *SPFL Development League champion: 2007–08 *Scottish Premier League champion: 2009–10 *Scottish Football League Third Division champion: 2012–13 *Scottish League One champion: 2013–14

International

;Northern Ireland *Milk Cup under-19s winner: 2008

Individual

*PFA Scotland Team of the Year (Third Division): 2012–13

References



External links

*
Profile
at the official Irish Football Association site {{DEFAULTSORT:Little, Andrew Category:Living people Category:1989 births Category:People from Enniskillen Category:Association footballers from Northern Ireland Category:Northern Ireland youth international footballers Category:Northern Ireland under-21 international footballers Category:Northern Ireland B international footballers Category:Northern Ireland international footballers Category:Association football forwards Category:Association football utility players Category:Rangers F.C. players Category:Port Vale F.C. players Category:Preston North End F.C. players Category:Blackpool F.C. players Category:Accrington Stanley F.C. players Category:Stirling Albion F.C. players Category:Dumbarton F.C. players Category:Scottish Premier League players Category:English Football League players Category:Scottish Football League players Category:Scottish Professional Football League players Category:Association football coaches Category:Rangers F.C. non-playing staff