When Dundee manager Neil McCann swooped to sign 21-year-old midfielder Lewis Spence from Dunfermline in the summer, few would have predicted the impact he’s had on the side of late.
Since making his league debut in the 4-1 loss to Rangers at Ibrox in September, the youngster has turned in a number of solid performances to make the central-midfield berth his to lose.
The former Brechin City man has been consistent in his four games since and, if not for a double from Kerr Waddell, was arguably Dundee’s Man of the Match against Hearts on Saturday.
His stock is rising and the supporters are starting to take note, praising his work-rate and tenacity.
Spence is thankful for their backing but feels he, and other young players like Waddell, owe their boss the most for giving them the chance to shine in the first-team.
He said: “I’ve really got to thank the gaffer, Graham Gartland and the management team for giving me the opportunity to prove myself at this level.
“As young players we need to repay them with performances and hard work.
“We’ve got older, more experienced guys in there as well, like Darren O’Dea, Scott Bain and Kevin Holt, who help us a lot.
“It’s good we’re all gelling as a team and we’re young, so we can only get better.”
Spence was announced as Dundee’s official Man of the Match on Saturday before Waddell nodded home the winner.
And he insists he was lucky to get the honour.
He added: “Kerr probably should’ve got the club’s award on Saturday, popping up with two goals and winning the game for us.
“I’m happy with the way I’m playing but maybe a bit fortunate to get Man of the Match.
“Kerr’s a big, strong, aggressive boy. It’s great for him to get his first and second goals for the club, especially with two great headers from corners against a physical Hearts team as well. I’m delighted for him.”
There has been a clamour for centre-back Waddell to get a Scotland U/21 call-up following his goal-scoring exploits at the weekend and showings of late.
With Spence still eligible for the current campaign, he, too, should be knocking at the door for international honours.
“It is what it is,” Spence said.
“I’ve never been called up but it’s a thing everyone wants on their CV, to play for their country.
“I’m just concentrating on Dundee at the moment but it would be nice to get a call.”
Reflecting on the 2-1 win over Hearts, which lifted Dundee to eighth in the Premiership, Spence was pleased with how they executed a new shape and style of play.
He said: “I thought the boys were excellent, especially when it came to passing it out from the back and dominating the game.
“Hearts came into it a bit more in the second-half but we won it dirty in the end, we probably deserved the three points.
“We were brave but this is something we’ve been working on since the start of the season.
“Sometimes the fans might think it’s a bit risky but we believe in our own ability.
“There’s going to be mistakes at times but it can break down teams.”