Dundee United boss Micky Mellon has revealed he is keeping a close eye on Terrors loan Bairns Lewis Neilson and Kai Fotheringham.
The young duo are impressing at League One Falkirk, with Fotheringham scoring his first professional goal in a 2-1 Scottish Cup win over Arbroath last week.
Getting minutes under their belt is all part of the plan for the Tangerines, with others like Chris Mochrie at Montrose, Kieran Freeman at Peterhead and Ross Graham at Cove Rangers also being monitored.
Mellon insists his farmed-out kids have not been put out to pasture, rather they are gaining valuable first-team minutes with a view to returning to Tannadice and making an impact.
“All the staff continue to go out and watch them and those loans are a view to experience and to get them closer and more ready for our first-team,” he said.
“They are not going to get any better unless they play games.
“We need to get them out on the pitch to see what they are capable of or not.
“After the games are finished we can look at things and what they can do and what they can improve.
“You need those games, as the exam to move the boys on. It is getting the balance right.
“We could have kept Lewis here and he would have played parts or maybe more but we didn’t know.
“What we did know is that by going to Falkirk he would get first-team football.
“I went to watch him and Kai last week. Kai scored a great goal and they are both getting game time and doing well.
“We are monitoring all the lads whether they are at Cove Rangers or Peterhead.
“Part of the strategy is that they continue to improve.”
Tangerines kids need to be ready for Mellon to throw them into the first-team mix
The Terrors have fielded many academy graduates this season, including the aforementioned and the likes of Kerr Smith and Darren Watson.
Gaffer Mellon believes there are more to come but only when they are ready to step into the top-team dressing-room.
“It is not important how many,” he added.
“The most important things are we give them a chance and we want to have a steady stream into the first-team but they also need to be good enough in order to give us a chance of winning games.
“We haven’t just given the young boys game time just to make up the numbers.
“They have become part of our squad and the matchday team because we believe they will give us a chance of winning games.
“That is great for them and, for us, we have been able to dip into our academy.
“It is something we work very hard on as a club and the chairman is massive on us to try to do.
“We will continue to keep developing them.”
‘We need to get them consistent because the fans of Dundee United demand the team wins games’
Mellon says he is looking for consistent performers if any of the kids are to break into his starting XI and become a regular in his plans.
The path is there, with Jamie Robson, Louis Appere and Logan Chalmers all first-team fixtures.
However, Mellon knows the weight of expectation at the club and says any player coming into that environment must be prepared to deal with it.
He continued: “We work hard to get them ready. I am not just paying lip service to it.
“We want to get as many young people in as possible but there will always be a but with that.
“We need to get them consistent because the fans of Dundee United demand the team wins games.
“It is OK putting the young ones in but they have to be game-ready to perform.”