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Dundee boss Paul Hartley hoping new youth supremo can unearth hidden gems

Jimmy Boyle.
Jimmy Boyle.

When he was at Airdrie, Jimmy Boyle spotted the potential of Tony Watt and a certain player called Gary Mackay-Steven after he had been ditched by Liverpool.

Now, Dundee boss Paul Hartley is confident Boyle can unearth other hidden gems as the Dark Blues’ head of youth.

Former Diamonds manager, Boyle, was appointed last week, tasked with overhauling the entire academy set-up at Dens.

Hartley is fully confident the new man will do exactly that.

The Dundee manager said: “Jimmy Boyle is someone I’ve got to know over the last couple of years. He’ll be taking the youth and the Under-20s, overseeing the whole package.

“His forte is working with younger players which he did at Airdrie and probably got thrown into the manager’s job when he didn’t want it.

“He’s been doing a lot of work with the SFA in terms of doing assessments for the A and B licences.

“I’ve got to know him pretty well and we had him in a couple of weeks ago and he was terrific on the training ground.

“He’s really good with young players and will hopefully sort the whole academy set-up. It’s more organisation that’s needed.

“We’ve been left behind a little bit in recent years because of the situation with the club and we need to take care of that.

“The Under-20s have definitely improved this season with some players in the first team and others out on loan. Jimmy will definitely sort all that out. He’s brilliant on the training ground and great with the kids.

“He spotted Tony Watt and brought him through at Airdrie where he had him in his first team.

“He’s got an eye for a player, really good contacts and works with the SFA so hopefully it’s a great appointment for us.

“It’s a fascinating story with Tony Watt. Jimmy told me he just turned up for a trial and he also had Gary Mackay-Steven at Airdrie.”

Hartley is also keen for there to be more compassion shown to players in the academy system as he believes too many are thrown on the football scrapheap at an early age when they haven’t really been given a chance.

And he pointed to “late developers” such as Dundee’s Greg Stewart, Scott Bain and Kane Hemmings as a case in point.

He said: “You need to have a talent to spot players but I think if you’re going to be a player, then you will be a player.

“I can go to games and see straight away if someone has got something. We need to give kids more of an opportunity rather than telling them after six months or a year they’re not good enough.

“There’s a great opportunity for youngsters to get into first teams now, especially at our level. They’ll get an opportunity if they’re good enough and it’s about spotting the right ones.

“The whole academy system in Scotland has too many players in it, to be honest. I’d like to see a change in terms of how they’re run.

“I preferred the S-form system that was in place when I came through.

“Kids are getting told at an early age they’re not good enough now and it’s really disheartening.

Hartley added: “I don’t think it’s fair kids are getting told they’re not good enough at the age of 11 and 12.

“I don’t think that’s the case – you get late developers in the game. I was at Hibs as an S-form and was in the system from 12 to 16 and had an opportunity.

“If you didn’t quite make it at 16, at least you had four years at it – not six months.

“You had time to develop. Your body is changing. Players are different. We need to be more patient.

“I’m all in favour of having a system where the kids actually play. We used to play one night a week with your team and you played with your school and boys’ club but that’s not allowed now.

“They’re not getting enough game time. They’re not playing a lot of football. We can’t have kids going to academy games and getting 10 minutes. That’s not development.

“Greg Stewart came through the system at Rangers and Hearts and never quite made it. Kane Hemmings and Scott Bain the same.”

Hartley also revealed that the club are keen to tap into the potential of young players in the west and will look to set up a “satellite centre” to attract kids to Dundee.

He added: “Jimmy will coach our kids and our coaches in terms of our strategy.

“Our plan is – and I’ve spoken with the owners – is to have a satellite centre to get players from the west.

“You’re only talking about hiring a facility and have the coaches and a scout down there so Dundee is in the area and try to get better young players.

“Aberdeen, Hibs and Hearts used to do it. That’s our plan eventually.”