Emerging talent Louis Appere believes his inclusion in the starting line-up for Saturday’s impressive opening Championship win over Inverness Caley Thistle wasn’t just a boost for him but all the kids at Tannadice.
Despite the likes of 20-year-old Appere, 19-year-old Logan Chalmers, and Scott Banks, at just 17, getting game time in pre-season friendlies and Betfred Cup group games, boss Robbie Neilson warned their time once the league was up and running could be limited.
But he pulled off something of a surprise by naming striker Appere in the weekend team. The manager was repaid for that show of faith with an excellent performance.
Four goals from main attacker Lawrence Shankland grabbed the headlines but the 7,000 crowd at Tannadice also witnessed a top-drawer display from his younger strike partner.
And, if Appere was delighted on a personal level, he could also see the benefits for others like him.
“I think it’s been big for all of us younger players during the pre-season to get our chance,” he said.
“The manager has not been scared to give us an opportunity. Even coming into the league he’s given one of us the chance again. It’s great for all of us to know, if we are doing well, he will use us.”
The Perth-born kid admits being named in the starting team for such a big game was a thrill, though most important for him was helping United to victory.
“It was brilliant, the first start in a league game for me was great. I really enjoyed it and to get the 4-1 victory on the first day of the season was brilliant for all the guys.
“I’d an idea on the Thursday when we did shape in training and it was confirmed on Friday when the manager went through the team.
“I was playing in the friendlies and the Betfred Cup and it was great but I couldn’t be sure that I would be involved for the first league game. I was very happy when I was told and then I just made sure I prepared the best I could and I feel like it went well.”
Both for himself and the team, he’s not getting carried away by one good result, particularly right at the start of a campaign.
Equally, he’s aware the size and style of the win over ICT was a significant result.
“Like I say, I was happy with my own performance but the big thing was to win the game 4-1. It’s a great start and we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves because there is a long way to go but it is the perfect start for us.
“Inverness are one of the top teams in this division and we knew it was going to be a really tough game but I thought we managed it really well.”
A feature of his performance was the way he linked up with the goal machine that is Shankland and he regards himself lucky to be working with a player of that calibre.
“We seem to be linking up very well in a short space of time but, when you are playing with someone like him, you know he only needs a couple of chances and he will put them away. You saw him, four goals, he was brilliant.
“I suppose the way he’s settled in shows how good he is. It’s good to hear from an outside perspective that we look like we’ve played together a lot. I just feel we do complement each other’s games well and we do link up.
“I know what he wants when the ball is played up to me and, at the same time, he knows I like the ball in behind and he does that when it goes up to him.
“He’s hooked it in behind a few times and it’s worked well so far. Shanks is a brilliant striker and, as a young boy like myself, he is somebody to look up to.”