OFFICIAL: Dundee have the youngest starting line-up in British football

Nineteen-year-old centre-back Kerr Waddell is the Dark Blues’ youngest starter and has put in a number of stand-out performances this season alongside fellow rookie defender Jack Hendry

Most managers will tell you it is difficult to put together a good run of results with a young team but the only boss in Scottish football who knows for certain is Dundee’s Neil McCann.

He has fielded the youngest starting teams, not only in Scotland, but in the United Kingdom since the season kicked off in August.

Figures from the CIES Football Observatory reveal the average age of Dundee’s first XI is just 24.76.

The only other team which can boast an average age of under 25 is fellow Premiership side Motherwell with 24.84 years.

Looking at top-flight teams across Europe, the Dark Blues and the Steelmen are the only British teams to break the top 100, with Dundee sitting in 52nd.

At the other end of the age spectrum St Johnstone are Britain’s oldest side at 29.64.

As good as the figures sound for the future of the Dee, the league standings may prove the theory that older players provide more consistent performances and results.

Tommy Wright’s Perth men are flying high at third in the league, whereas Motherwell sit mid-table with Dundee in the bottom half.

They are, however, playing better than their more-experienced rivals Kilmarnock, Ross County and Partick Thistle and did overturn St Johnstone at Dens Park a fortnight ago.

The Dark Blues’ youthful look can partly be attributed to injury and suspension issues which have plagued their campaign so far.

Their only two over 30s, Darren O’Dea and James McPake, have missed a lot of football and their replacements in central defence are two of Dundee’s youngest.

Jack Hendry (22) and Kerr Waddell (19) have been terrific all season and have made the jerseys theirs to lose.

They made up part of the Dark Blues’ fresh-faced back four in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

Ever-present full-backs Cammy Kerr (22) and Kevin Holt (24) complete the defence to give it an average age of just 21.75, with goalie Scott Bain the old man of the backline at 25-years-old.

Dundee’s oldest player on Saturday was 27-year-old striker A-Jay Leitch-Smith in a starting line-up with an average age of 23.18 years as Neil continues to put faith in his youngsters.

Signed in the summer from Dunfermline to little fanfare, 21-year-old Lewis Spence has impressed in recent weeks and looks to be a very astute capture for the Dark Blues.

Twenty-one-year-old Lewis Spence has started Dundee’s last four ties

Following sparkling outings for the U/20 side and a brace in the Irn-Bru Cup for Dundee Colts, 17-year-old forward Matty Henvey found himself on the bench in Ayrshire.

There is a talented crop of youngsters coming through at Dens and it is surely only a matter of time before more follow Waddell and Henvey’s lead in breaking through to the first-team.

The U/20s side are currently joint-top of the Development League with none other than Motherwell after the opening four rounds.

Across the city, although figures were not compiled for clubs outwith the top-flight, Dundee United have a young squad with an average age of just 23.77 years.

Nineteen-year-old duo Harry Lewis and Jamie Robson are regular starters for the Tangerines, with 21-year-old Paul McMullan another key player.

The Terrors will be hoping Alan Hansen’s “you can’t win anything with kids” claim about Sir Alex Ferguson’s 1996 Manchester United title-winning side is wrong again as Ray McKinnon’s men aim to return to the top-flight.

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