Dundee United academy chief Andy Goldie is urging his young stars to seize a spot in Micky Mellon’s first team.
United kids Lewis Neilson and Logan Chalmers have featured heavily for boss Mellon so far this season as the Tangerines get equipped to life in the Premiership.
His fledglings have impressed in cutting their teeth in the top flight and former SFA Performance School coach Goldie reckons there is the potential for more hopefuls coming up behind them.
The 35-year-old believes Mellon and sporting director Tony Asghar have given his lads a pathway – now it’s up to them to take their chance.
Goldie said: “Everyone was talking about United needing players for certain positions but great credit to Micky and Tony because the first place they’ve looked is the academy.
“We’ll probably still sign other players, and there’s been a couple brought in already, but he’s looked at the academy first and he’s gone ‘I’m going to give these boys a chance’.
“He’s been so impressed with them from any U/18 games he’s seen or any meetings we’ve had.
“As a result he’s willing to put his faith and trust in those young boys by giving them first-team opportunities. It’s now up to them to take that.
“They’ve got the platform there, they need to go and grab it with two hands and make sure we don’t go and sign somebody else in that position.”
Goldie, academy director at Tannadice for over 18 months now, is back working with players at the GA Arena and the kids taking part in the Terrors’ new link-up with Baldragon Academy.
It’s been a long time coming after months of working from home but Goldie feels they are starting to, slowly, get some normality back.
He added: “We were able to come back on July 13 under different conditions but we wanted to do things right.
“We know there are certain clubs and programmes which have rushed back but, being the elite academy in the area, we wanted to lead by example.
“We made sure we’ve got our protocols and procedures in place to make sure our kids, first and foremost, are safe and we’re limiting the chance of the virus spreading.
“Secondly, we wanted to make sure they were coming back into an environment which is still fun and enjoyable.
“They’d not played proper football or trained in a competitive manner for over five months when we started back in August.
“We’re now running three sessions a week for all age groups and will continue to monitor that in line with government guidelines.
“We’re continuing to work over Zoom as well and hope to get back in the gym and doing live analysis soon.
“We’re back at full throttle just not always on the pitch. It’s been great to get the boys back.”
With schools now two weeks back, Goldie also provided an update on the encouraging progress at Baldragon.
“It’s been brilliant – it couldn’t be going any better,” he continued.
“With the current situation with Covid-19, it would be very easy for the school to put our 12 boys at the back of their mind but they’ve been at the forefront of their mind the whole time.
“They couldn’t have done any more to make the kids feel welcome, settle in and make that transition from either primary school or another secondary school into Baldragon.
“It’s been seamless. Boys are taking it into their stride, being able to train every single day on the pitch.
“It’s been a great start, so far.
“The school have gone out their way to give every bit of support required to get it up and running and get off to a great start.
“It’s exceeded expectations, to be honest. It’s got up and running a lot quicker than we thought it would’ve in the current climate.”
As much as he is delighted to see youngsters back with ball at feet, Goldie believes one positive of lockdown is it allowed kids to be kids.
He commented: “We don’t just see ourselves as an academy in terms of football, we believe we can offer so much more to young people and part of that is developing their characters and identities.
“I don’t mean what we think they should be, just what they are and making them a better version of themselves and giving them experiences which will last throughout their life regardless of how successful they are in football.
“A big part of that is allowing them to be kids, make mistakes and do things that their friends are doing.
“I think academies can suffocate kids with structure and routine. Yes, there’s part of that which is going to help them, of course.
“However, there’s also a part which is stopping them from developing leadership skills and other skills which can help them become a better footballer.
“It’s been great to see them spending time with their families and friends. We also gave them great opportunities to speak to Andy Robertson, Billy Gilmour and some of our academy graduates, past and present, on Zoom.
“We done so much with them in a really intense period. You don’t always get that time because they’re training so much.”