Robbie Neilson hopes to send a string of his kids out on loan next month but that doesn’t mean the Dundee United manager regards them as surplus to requirements.
In fact, exactly the opposite applies because the ones who do head out on a temporary basis will be players he believes can be challenging for first-team spots by this time next year.
“We are working quite hard on getting some of the younger ones out on development loans in order to get game time,” said Robbie.
“A lot of them are at an age now where they need to play first-team football, only maybe not at the level we have to play here.
“They have to go and play, develop, but we have to put them somewhere we are happy with, where they will get game time. They will still stay here and train.
“I think it is really important they get that experience and then it’s up to them to come back in the summer and push in pre-season.”
For Robbie the decision is not a reflection on the quality of football his kids have been experiencing in the new Reserve League.
It’s simply that he knows from experience there is nothing that can match the knowledge to be gained from playing in competitive games at top-team level.
“The Reserve League has been really good – I like it. When it was the 20s league you had teams playing 15-year-olds and stuff like that.
“You couldn’t play your senior players. You could only play a certain way and I think it was a bit daft, to be honest with you.
“I think we have a situation now where if someone doesn’t play on a Saturday he will play in a reserve game in midweek and that’s good.
“There is still a difference between reserve football and first-team football, no matter what level you are at.
“There is an added pressure and aggression so, hopefully, any of our lads who go out on loan will enjoy the experience then come back to us as better players.”
One problem with the plan is that this season there have been a good number of managerial changes.
That means January will see older players who are not part of their new team bosses’ plans being offered to clubs.
Robbie added: “It is the same at every club. There have been so many managerial changes at clubs in Scotland this year that it has escalated the number of player changes.”