This coming season is the biggest year of young Scott Allardice’s career and his manager has set him the challenge of breaking into the first team.
The 19-year-old midfielder made his debut in April and went on to make six appearances before the season was out.
A unit of a man, Allardice impressed in the middle of the park, keeping things simple and using his physique to win back possession.
He certainly impressed manager Ray McKinnon, who expects the youngster to really step up to the mark as a first-team regular this campaign.
With an experienced pro like Willo Flood and possible new signing Fraser Fyvie ahead of him, however, bursting into the starting XI isn’t going to be easy.
Despite those two looking like the first-choice pairing in the middle of the park, the Tannadice gaffer insists there will be a chance for Scott, and other youngsters at the club, to stake a claim for a starting spot.
Ray said: “I am also looking for Scott Allardice to step up.
“He did well when he came in and now this is another season.
“He has been working hard and there will be opportunities for young players here as long as they are good enough.
“Scott has a fantastic attitude and I will be looking for him to make an impact.”
A Dundonian lad, Allardice has worked his way through the youth system at Tannadice, signing for the club back in 2010.
After penning professional terms with the Tangerines in 2014, Allardice spent 13 months out of the game with a serious knee injury.
After that long road to recovery, the youngster finally made his first-team bow in a 1-1 draw against Falkirk on April 8 this year, starting the game and playing the first 78 minutes before being replaced.
A good run of starts followed and Allardice obviously impressed his manager enough to see £200,000 signing Charlie Telfer leave the club at the end of the season in the knowledge he had a player he could rely upon.
And with a flurry of early-season cup matches coming up soon, Allardice will get his chance somewhere along the line.
There could well be another midfielder coming into the club, increasing competition in the position, but the amount of matches United have to play next season means squad rotation is a must for the manager.
With the early start of the Betfred Cup group stages, competitive games shouldn’t be a problem — but getting a look-in during pre-season might be more difficult.
After an epic campaign last time around with almost 60 matches that included winning the Challenge Cup and getting to the play-off final, manager McKinnon doesn’t want to overwork his players before the season even gets going.
So far, they’ve only lined up two pre-season friendlies, one at Montrose and a closed-doors game against Blackpool.
The aim is to add another game, possibly against Forfar, but the gaffer is aware, after finishing last campaign much later than any of their rivals, that tiredness could catch up with his side.
“I am trying to keep the pre-season fairly light and I think we might just need three games,” said Ray.
“We had 57 games last year and the players won’t lose their fitness after just four weeks’ break.
“We could have had more but we don’t need five or six games.”