Dundee’s youth system is very much “back on two feet again” after the pandemic shutdown says the club’s academy chief Stephen Wright.
And former Scotland defender Wright is excited about the future for youngsters in the Dundee setup as it begins a new chapter with their very own performance school – a system credited with aiding the development of the likes of Scotland stars Billy Gilmour and Nathan Patterson.
“The academy is back on two feet again after the tough period during lockdown,” the head of academy told the Courier.
“That’s thanks to all the work done by the coaches over that time who stayed with us and volunteered. They have been brilliant.
“Now we are back to normal and our number of coaches is back up to the previous level.
‘Everything is in place’
“We’ve got started with our school programme, too. It’s very similar to the previous SFA Performance School setup but it is ours alone.
“Dundee have already benefited from the system with Fin Robertson, Max Anderson and Lyall Cameron among those to have gone through it.
“We’ve had huge help from the school, in particular the deputy head Wendy Sinclair, the previous head Fiona McLagan who helped set things up, and the new head teacher Mr Hagney.
“They have been brilliant in helping us get started as has Iain Jenkins, who remains there for the SFA.
“The SFA system is still in place but we have started with our first S1 group and things are working really well.
“It has been an established performance school for the past 10 years so everything is in place, all the facilities are there it’s now up to us and for the kids to apply themselves.
“Previously we would have them three times a week, now they have 11 sessions per week with us so it’s already been a big improvement.”
Despite taking on a role with Celtic, Dundee’s technical director Strachan is also still on hand to provide his vast footballing experience to the youth set-up.
Wright added: “Gordon is still very much involved.
“He spoke to me when the Celtic thing came up and assured me he’d still be doing everything he does for us to help the coaches and the players.
“He’s been around, helping the coaches and it’s great for us. We learn so much from just an hour with Gordon Strachan on the training pitch.
“We are very lucky to have him around.”
On the future of the academy, Wright added: “We are happy where we are just now but we are doing everything we can to make things better.
“We keep working hard to try to get players into the first team, that’s always the first priority.
“A few of Scott Robertson’s U/18s have done well and been training with the first team.
“It’s up to us to help them try to catch the eye of the manager.”