Julen Etxabeguren has had to play catch-up to make an impression on Dundee boss Neil McCann.
But the former East Fife man is now starting to make up for lost time.
Progressing well after a long lay-off with a knee injury, Etxabeguren was given another run-out in Dave Mackay’s testimonial match on Friday night.
And McCann is happy with the progress his Spanish centre-back is making.
“Julen was comfortable,” he said.
“That was his third or fourth game and he looks really good.
“I wanted him to feel like being a professional footballer again with a crowd, against a good St Johnstone side.”
On having ground to make up on the other Dundee players who have either been signed by McCann in the summer or have been kept on because he likes what he sees, the Dens boss said: “Of course he has (been playing catch-up).
“I knew he was a quality player but I have to admit that I didn’t know too much about him beyond that.
“You need to get to know a player personally and see him training. I’ve been able to do that over the last couple of months.
“But he’s like a new signing. We’ve got Kosta (Gadzhalov) and Josh (Meekings) coming back as well. These are like quality signings outside the transfer window.”
With Etxabeguren’s fellow countryman, Jon Aurtenetxe, also getting a chance to impress at McDiarmid Park, McCann has options at left-back as well as in the middle of his defence.
“Jon’s unfortunate that Kevin (Holt) has come on in the last few games,” he said.
“Jon coming in has provided him with competition.
“Some players wouldn’t enjoy the competition but Kevin has. And it’s lifted his performances.
“If we get a suspension or injury Jon has shown he’s got a really good pedigree and is ready to give it a push.”
A few Dundee youngsters got game-time and Jack Lambert was the pick of them, scoring one goal and setting up another.
“Jack’s a talent and he’s been pushing himself forward,” said McCann.
“He’s got an eye for a pass and an eye for a goal. He knows what I demand from him in terms of pushing himself forward for the first team.
“I have to compliment Jimmy (Boyle). He brought him in. He impressed in his trial and we’re really pleased with him.
“But he has a big fight on his hands if he wants to get himself into the first team. He did himself a favour, though.
“He earned the right to be involved. I said that to him. Jordan Piggott is a class act as well at left centre-back. He’s not the tallest but is really good in the air.
“We brought on Matthew Henvey and a couple of others. Wee tastes now and again can help them.”
The second half of the match was more about the returning legends of both clubs but the first 45 proved to be a valuable exercise to keep McCann’s players ticking over during an international break.
“There were some good performances,” he said.
“It was a relaxed build-up, more so than if it was a league game.
“But I said to them the most important thing was they looked after themselves properly and did things right.
“We got game-time and implemented that three at the back. We changed it during the match and got a chance to see how we coped with that.
“Although St Johnstone had a few chances, we were quite clinical. There were three good goals.”