Fin Robertson is “one of the top young talents in the country” and will be “crucial” to any Dundee success next season, according to boss James McPake
The 17-year-old was a revelation in the middle of the park for the Dark Blues last campaign, featuring 21 times in the first-team after making his senior debut at the tail end of the previous season.
The Dens gaffer has shown massive faith in Robertson after coaching him in the club’s academy and says he’ll be a big part of the plans going forward.
McPake said: “I expected him to come in and do very well, which he has done. I genuinely thought he was good enough to play at 15 and I know Neil McCann felt the same.
“I had worked with Fin for three years and had played with him in games so I knew the impact he was going to have. It was just about managing him.
“There will be people who say we shouldn’t have left him out when we did but he’s still a young boy, still developing his body and is developing mentally as a professional footballer for your boyhood club.
“It’s a bit of a juggling act not to over-protect him. We had to be conscious we weren’t risking injury on a young kid and had to be cautious.
“We’ll be less cautious next year because he’s had a year of first-team football, a year older. By the time of the first derby (in August), Fin had only trained with the first team for eight weeks.”
The Dens boss admitted leaving him out for the 6-2 derby defeat at Tannadice at the start of the season was a mistake – but he says he’s glad he made the error.
“It was a mistake from me, I’ll be honest,” McPake added.
“It was a wrong call. Would it have changed the result in the game? No. We lost it on set-plays and were really poor on them in the game. Fin wouldn’t have altered that.
“We had the discussions and, bearing in mind this was a kid who had just left school, a Dundee fan all his life, though he’d played in big games before, the derby is different.
“It was the wrong call because I did see how he handled it when we did play him down there (a 1-1 draw in December). I felt I was protecting him a little. In hindsight
“I’m glad I left him out because he didn’t deserve to be part of that result. In the later derby, he strolled it.”
On the season, McPake added: “Has he performed the way we thought he would? Absolutely.
“Will he be crucial when we get back to playing? Very much so, yeah.
“For me, he’s one of the top young talents in the country. But he has a lot to learn and he knows that.
“The good thing about Finlay is he is working non-stop – you need to tell him to stop at times.
“I’m delighted for him, lovely kid with a great attitude and very modest. He listens and wants to learn all the time.
“We’re delighted for him and that he is at our club. He still has a long way to go and we believe we can help him get there.”