Dundee United kid Matty Smith has put himself in the frame for a starting place in Sunday’s Betfred Cup derby at Dundee.
With James Keatings out for six weeks with damaged ankle ligaments and Patrick N’Koyi pulling up in training on Saturday, 19-year-old Smith was left as the only fit central striker for Sunday’s win over Cowdenbeath.
Given a start, he grabbed his chance, turning in an impressive performance and grabbing United’s final goal in their 4-1 win.
That display and the progress Smith’s made since going out on loan to Montrose at the turn of the year, has convinced his gaffer he could handle a derby start.
“Matty has done really well. His strength is going in behind, but the way Cowdenbeath set up he had to start coming deep,” said Ray.
“It’s not his natural game, but he did it well.
“He took his goal well too and the way he’s playing is a real bonus for me, it really is.
“I’m delighted for him and he is definitely in my thoughts now for the first team.”
That said, United will give new man N’Koyi the next few days to show he can be involved at Dens.
And it’s hoped defender Mark Durnan will also recover in time to return.
“Patrick has done a thigh muscle when he turned in training the other day so we’ll have to see how he is,” added Ray.
“Mark has a problem right at the top of his hip and into his back.
“He did it up at Buckie last week, but he’s not too bad and hopefully he will be OK in a few days.
“Willo Flood will be back in training this week and Stewart Murdoch is running again.
“I don’t see them being fit for the weekend, but we are getting people back fit and that’s good.”
And Ray is pleased to be preparing for the weekend’s big game on the back of another win, one he felt was well deserved.
“Cowdenbeath set up with everybody behind the ball and that made it difficult, but we changed the system a bit at half-time and went more direct. Overall it was good.
“We probably tried to overplay a wee bit and score the perfect goal, but we do have players who like to pass the ball.
“There was some nice football and it was good to get some kids on near the end to give them a taste of first-team football.”