Dundee United boss Thomas Courts has hailed youngsters Kieran Freeman and Flynn Duffy for their performances against Kelty Hearts.
Freeman (21) started at right-back as a late replacement for Liam Smith, who picked up a knee injury in the warm-up, at New Central Park last Friday night.
While Duffy (17) made his first-team debut at left-back in United’s 1-0 Premier Sports Cup win in Fife.
Both are in contention to get the nod again for the Group B visit of Elgin to Tannadice tomorrow night – something new head coach Courts has no qualms over.
‘There is talent there’
“I tend not to make too much of a deal about giving young players opportunities because, invariably, they never let you down,” he said.
“The best thing you can do for a young player is give them opportunities, clarity of what it is you expect of them and let them go and perform.
“I think both guys performed admirably.”
On Freeman, who impressed on loan at Peterhead last season, Courts is backing him to live up to the potential that won him a move away from Tannadice to Southampton in 2016 as a 16-year-old.
It didn’t work out for the defender, who returned to United four years later after injury problems hampered his progress on the south coast.
Having the attitude to fight his way back into the first-team picture, for Courts, is a credit to Freeman.
“There is talent there,” the United boss said of the Aberdonian.
“His time down south was mired with injury problems so he’s came back up and is trying to reset his career.
“He’s a lovely lad with a great attitude, similar to Flynn Duffy.
“Both are very good examples to our academy players in terms of what’s required, their day-to-day professionalism and, ultimately, the game’s rewarded them with a real good opportunity on Friday there.”
Elgin scouting mission for Courts
Courts has scouted Elgin personally ahead of the Moray side’s visit to Tannadice Street tomorrow evening.
Despite going down 1-0 to group rivals Arbroath, the United boss was impressed with what he saw of Gavin Price’s men.
Courts also reflected on his first outing in the dugout as Terrors boss.
“I’ve given Elgin total respect I went up to watch their game on Saturday.
“I travelled all that way to make sure we’re giving them the due diligence that’s required in order to prepare properly and make sure we maximise our performance on Wednesday.”
Of the Kelty win, he continued: “I think, on reflection, I was well aware that it was win at all costs.
“The mentality we’re approaching these games with is it’s qualification football.
“It’s slightly different to your typical league or cup format.
“Getting off to a winning start was the priority and to do it in any manner possible was exactly what we tasked ourselves with.
“To keep a clean sheet, have more shots on goal, dominate possession and come away with the victory, as far as I’m concerned it’s job done.”