Dundee U/20 coach Eddie Johnson reckons plenty of his players will be making their mark at first-team level before long.
And the youngster he’s tipped to be pushing hard in the not too distant future is new boy Dylan Carreiro. Johnson admits he’s been impressed by the impact of the Canadian youth international since his summer arrival. Quick, lively and with an eye for a pass, former QPR kid Carreiro put in a Man of the Match show in last week’s ‘wee derby’ in which Dundee ran out 3-1 winners. Not only did he impress Johnson but first-team boss Paul Hartley was in the Gayfield stands to see his Winnipeg-born youngster show a few more coveted United kids the ropes. Carreiro may now be sent on a short-term loan to the Gayfieldside in a bid to get him top-team games but Johnson reckons he’ll be knocking onthe first-team door at Dens in the not-too-distant-future. “Dylan has done really well since he has come in,” said Johnson. “He has great ability and a great attitude to go with it. He’s just come in and slotted straight into our side. “As a coach it’s good to have players who are not going to settle for playing their football in the U/20s. He has higher aspirations than that. He’s determined to put some pressure on the more senior players at this football club.” Johnson, who himself was an England youth international on the books of Manchester United, added: “We’ve got guys here who are ready to put their name in the hat for the first team. “Paul Hartley was watching our last game and I think one or two of our players will have caught his eye. Different people have different reasons for playing at our level. “Sometimes you get first-team players who need games, sometimes they need to prove a point to the manager. But most of the time it’s young players who are keen to make an impact and get into the first team. We have a few here who won’t be too far away before long.” One of the main remits of Johnson’s role is to make sure the first-team pool has competition from below. It’s something that is seen as key from the very top of the club, boardroom to dressing-room. “There’s some excellent players here,” said Johnson. “It’s my job to make sure the manager has players he can call upon from the U/20s to do a job when needed. As a club we’re determined to build a crop of good youngsters here.” One player who has become a familiar face around the U/20 squad with plenty of first-team experience is James McPake. Signed in the summer from Hibs by the manager, the centre-half has been a revelation while wearing dark blue. But his contribution to the club does not end when he walks off the park in the Premiership. The 30-year-old Northern Ireland international is taking a hands on approach when it comes to helping with the development of youth football at Dens Park. Johnson revealed McPake has been a real asset around the U/20 squad, where he has been working on the staff. “Jazza came in for the St Mirren game,” said the Englishman. “He comes into the dressing-room and says his bit. He’s obviously looking to his future. “It’s great for the players to have someone like him around, everyone listens to every word he says. “It’s definitely a benefit for me to have him in and around because of the respect he commands among the young players.”