Fin Robertson is blazing a trail for young players and, along with senior team-mate Cammy Kerr, is proving the perfect example for academy prospects says Dundee youth supremo Stephen Wright.
The Dark Blues’ head of youth joined the club from Rangers in February and is delighted to have arrived at a time when young players are breaking into the first-team set-up.
“It’s brilliant for everybody around here and it’s credit to Finlay Robertson to get where he is at this moment being just 16-years-old,” Wright told the Tele.
“It’s great for these younger lads to see Finlay and see there’s a pathway that if you’re good enough you’ll get an opportunity.
“Especially at a club like Dundee, we need to produce our own players for the first team.
“We also have Cammy Kerr, who came up through the ranks, and he comes in to help with the academy and the younger ones.
“To have Cammy and Finlay as role models is brilliant for the youth set-up – hopefully, we can get a few more over the next few years.
“The manager (James McPake) knows these boys well because he worked with them last year.
“James knew how good Finlay was and there’s other guys on the fringes like Lyall Cameron, Josh Mulligan and a few more that James knows.
“Credit to the manager for putting them in. He did that with Finlay and he’s still there which shows that, if you’re good enough, you’ll get a chance, no matter what age you are.”
He added: “I hope there are more coming through.
“It’s always difficult to predict because young players all have potential and it’s about whether or not they fulfil that or if the pathway is there for them.
“My job is to try to get the players through the system and into the first team like Finlay Robertson. I’ll keep doing that and, if players are ready and want it bad enough, there are opportunities here.”
Gordon Strachan arrived at the club in the summer and has already made a huge impact on the youth set-up, according to Wright.
“With Gordon coming in as technical director, I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time with him since he’s come in,” Wright added.“We share an office and chat about football all the time with Scott Robertson and Gary Irvine, who take the 18s. It’s great to tap into Gordon’s knowledge.
“He’s been great for the academy because he wants to help the coaches as well as the players, meet the parents and all sorts. So, from a wider sense, it’s been fantastic for me and the rest of the guys.
“Gordon is really passionate about youth development and has been looking at that for the last 20 years. Even though he was a manager, he was really interested in youth football across the world so we’re delighted he’s chosen to come to Dundee to make a difference up here. Hopefully, we can get the benefits of that along with the local kids.”
Another major step forward for the club’s youth set-up has seen the academy move in to the Regional Performance Centre at Caird Park.
Wright added: “The academy was in good hands before I came in. Everything was in place so I knew I was coming into something good with players on the fringes of the first team. There were things I wanted to look at, in particular facilities.
“We have now managed to get into the new regional performance centre at Caird Park, which is brilliant. The whole academy is in there, we play games there and have rooms to do analysis and parents nights and different things.
“We’ve worked hard, starting with John Nelms, to get the academy in there. Leisure and Culture Dundee have been great and we have two full-size astro pitches and everything you need for a modern-day academy. We are very fortunate and grateful we are in there.”