The future is bright, the future is tangerine? Dundee United boss Micky Mellon certainly hopes so after he played a host of youngsters in last night’s 3-0 defeat at Kilmarnock.
The result wasn’t what he was after, as United dropped to eighth in the Premiership table and Killie dragged themselves out of the relegation spots, however he was pleased to give youth a chance.
Kerr Smith (16) and Florent Hoti (20) got full debuts, while Archie Meekison (18) made his first appearance in tangerine off the bench in the second half.
Mellon was happy with how his fledglings fared as he challenged them to seize their opportunity.
‘We never did it as a favour, we believe they were ready to come in and make an impact’
“We’re disappointed to lose any game of football because we’re a team that’s always expected to win and play well,” he said.
“It was an opportunity to give some of the young players a run out because they’ve been knocking at the door.
“We never did it as a favour, we believe they were ready to come in and make an impact.
“We needed to have a look and see if they can be a part of our future and be the players that move us forward.
“I think they all showed that and they’ll be better for the experience.
“I’m, obviously, disappointed to lose the game but there were a lot of plusses.”
Lafferty test will benefit teenager Smith in long run
Mellon reserved special praise for Smith as he equipped himself well against Killie hitman Kyle Lafferty, despite the Northern Irish international striker bagging a hat-trick on the night.
“It was an outstanding opportunity for him, but not just Kerr; young Archie, Flo and Louis Appere as well,” the United gaffer added.
“You’ve got to remember he’s still a young boy.
“We needed to give a run out to others ones to keep things moving forward – Luke Bolton and these kind of guys.
“It’s important when they get the opportunity they take it.
“We wanted to maintain the integrity of the league and put out a team that we thought could get a result.
“We might’ve made it a bit more difficult for Kilmarnock but you saw the inexperience and the rustiness in the end.”
Appere work-rate ‘phenomenal’ says boss Mellon
Appere led the line in the No 9 role, a position he’s not taken often for the Tangerines this season, and boss Mellon predicts a bright future for the 22-year-old striker.
“Louis did everything that we wanted,” he continued.
“We might’ve got a wee bit closer to him at times and helped him out.
“He maybe got a wee bit isolated at times but he certainly got a hold of the ball and his work-rate is phenomenal.
“He’s a lad that we really rate and are pleased to have here.
“We want to keep developing him because he has all the attributes to be a real top Premiership and Dundee United player.”