Becoming a fans’ favourite, weighing in with goals and being hailed “a real success story” by his boss – it’s been a season to remember for Dundee United wide man Adrian Sporle.
The Argentine ace has cemented himself in United gaffer Micky Mellon’s plans, scoring four times in 22 appearances in tangerine this term.
Mellon believes there’s more to come from the 25-year-old, though, and has challenged him to kick on between now and the end of the campaign.
With the Terrors still fighting on two fronts, starting their Premiership bottom-six journey at Hamilton on Saturday and with Forfar to face in the Scottish Cup, Mellon reckons they’ve plenty room for improvement.
‘I still believe he can get better and better, there is still a lot of potential there waiting to be unlocked’
“Adrian has been a real success story for us this season,” he said.
“It was new to him this season, he’s not played at this level before in the Premiership so he’s had to learn about himself as things went along.
“He’s had to show he’s capable of stepping up and he’s one of the ones who has done that.
“He’s attacked what he’s been asked to do and has had an impact in the games he’s played.
“I still believe he can get better and better, there is still a lot of potential there waiting to be unlocked.
“Like with the rest of him, I’ve told him to aim high, be tough on himself and he can keep improving.
“He’s a great lad with a great attitude, he’s well-liked within the group so everyone has been delighted to see him do well.
“He expects to keep doing better and that will help him because every day he’s working hard to get better.”
Mellon empathises with Sporle’s homesickness
It’s been far from plain sailing for Sporle to get to this point, however.
Thousands of miles away from home amid the global coronavirus pandemic, he’s had to adapt to a new city and country as well as rise to the challenge of playing in the top flight.
With the recent arrival of girlfriend Sofia to Dundee and the support of his team-mates, it’s made life easier for the Argentine – and it’s showing on the pitch.
Mellon empathises with his wing wizard as he revealed his own struggle with being away from family and friends.
The Tannadice boss praised Sporle for the way he has coped with the upheaval and believes football has played a huge role in helping him get through.
“It has been challenging for everyone over the last year, I’ve only seen my own mother once and my kids down south once as well,” he revealed.
“Everyone is in their own bubbles and it’s very difficult.
“Coming to Scoland from Argentina, it has been tough on him because he’s not been able to get home at any stage or he’s not been able to bring his family over.
“But he’s a good lad, he’s very grounded and has been able to focus on his football.
“He’s not allowed what’s been going on with the pandemic affect him.”