Ryan Gauld is the most naturally gifted player I’ve seen in a Dundee United shirt since the enormously underrated Graeme Payne.
Payne was a mercurial genius who, despite 293 appearances in the tangerine, often seemed to fly under the general radar.
His close control, touch and overall craft with a ball was peerless and it’s a huge shame that he didn’t achieve greater things in the game.
Gauld played a fraction of Payne’s games for United before he was snatched up by Sporting Lisbon six years ago but, like the ginger maestro, he was immediately identifiable as a major talent.
Top European sides don’t sign young prospects on a whim; they saw something special in him and that’s currently being displayed in the top flight in Portugal for his current side, Farense.
Gauld can offer intelligence, trickery, goals and assists – and he plays in a quality league.
His strong character overcame a few seasons of setbacks to help Farense win promotion to the Portuguese top division, scoring nine times and becoming second division player of the season.
Despite qualification for the Euros, consecutive defeats to Slovakia and Israel prove that the Scotland team needs more creative quality.
Including Gauld in the squad might provide a touch of artistry, flair and finesse to paint a brighter picture for Scotland’s Euro hopes.
Domestic football returns this weekend and for Tayside’s big three the pressure remains relentless.
United might not be setting the hearts of their purist fans alight, but their league position looks handsome for a first season back in the top flight.
A killer result against bottom dogs Hamilton would be a huge psychological blow, opening an unbridgeable thirteen point gap over the relegation candidates.
United’s ambitions outstrip mere survival.
The size of the club dictates that the ambition must be to finish in the top half of the Premiership.
St Johnstone too must be contenders for a spot in that top six.
Man-for-man, I see Saints as a more compact, expansive and creative side than United, but the league table tells no lies.
Micky Mellon’s men are three points better off than Callum Davidson’s team; a situation which will undoubtedly fluctuate as the season waxes and wanes.
Both clubs need to continue their progress and maintain the concentration and consistency levels required to reassert their league credentials after this international break.
Dundee, meantime, have to make sure their Championship season doesn’t disappear from under their feet before it’s started in earnest.
Already off the pace behind Raith, Dunfermline and Hearts, James McPake’s side must develop a killer instinct – and quickly.
Until a late collapse at Hibs in midweek they showed that the ability is present but they need to acquire a lethal edge and avoid costly, careless lapses.
They won’t face quality like Hibs every week, but they’ll meet teams with determination and grit, which they’ll need to overcome if they’re to escape their Championship confinement.