Louis Appere could be forgiven for cursing his luck as he seeks to make his mark following Dundee United’s ascension to the top-flight.
To be charged with unseating an international attacker in order to get a consistent run in the starting line-up is an onerous prospect.
Appere has to contend with two.
The presence of Scotland caps Lawrence Shankland and Marc McNulty in the United ranks – before you even consider the vastly experienced Nicky Clark – has contributed to a frustrating campaign for the 22-year-old.
— Dundee United FC (@dundeeunitedfc) March 23, 2021
Appere has made 22 appearances, but only ten of those have been as a starter and he has only rippled the net once.
So, while some players in the United ranks may see Friday night’s televised clash with Forfar as a banana skin to be nimbly side-stepped with minimum fuss and maximum professionalism, the promising forward view it as a golden opportunity to shine, providing Micky Mellon shuffles his pack.
“Like anyone, you want to play as much as possible,” said Appere. “So, when I get my chance, I want to use it. If I get that opportunity on Friday, I’ll look to do my best.
“We’ve got great competition in the forward spaces, which can only be positive for the club, but I absolutely believe in my ability too, and I think I can bring a lot to the team.
“I want to be a part of things as much as possible.
“We’ve got a good side here right now and, although we know in the past there have been some unbelievable teams and history, we’re looking at the here and now and what we can do as a squad of players.”
Appere has already won his fair share of silverware, underlining the promise with which he was viewed as a talented teenager – resulting in a trial with Italian giants Roma – but he laughs off the scale of those achievements.
Helping to guide United to Hampden would be on a completely different stratosphere to his schoolboy accolades.
“I’ve got a couple of medals from boys’ club,” he smiled. “Years back at East Fife, we won the Fife Cup, and at AM Soccer [the soccer academy of former Hearts coach Austin MacPhee] we won a couple of cups as well.
“It was hard to keep track though. The names keep changing!
Fourth Round #StatAttack:
➡️ This will be the first competitive meeting of @ForfarAthletic and @dundeeunitedfc since March 1987, when United beat the Loons 2-0 at Station Park in a Scottish Cup quarter-final, following a 2-2 draw at Tannadice.#ScottishCup pic.twitter.com/LpujKhUOVV
— Scottish Cup (@ScottishCup) April 14, 2021
“This is very different. We’re aware of the club’s tradition in the cup. You want to dream of that trip to Hampden and the final.
“After confirming we’re definitely staying up, it’s the only competition left and the biggest of the cups so we’ll see what we can do. The important thing is Friday night, then go from there.”
The prospect of bringing the cup back to Tannadice for the first time since 2010 is made all the more tantalising by the fact one of Celtic or Rangers will be knocked out Sunday evening.
I absolutely believe in my ability too, and I think I can bring a lot to the team.
“It’s a good point,” says Appere, when that factor is mentioned. “So, hopefully we can do our job. That’s the main thing – then if we progress, we can see how the other results go.”
The opposition may be new – United and Forfar having not played each other since the Loons took United to a replay in 1987 – but Appere can at least count on a familiarity with Station Park and its artificial turf.
United have trained at the Angus home of the Loons this week, while Appere is no stranger to the surroundings from his time in the Tannadice second string.
“I’ve played a lot of reserve games at Station Park; it’s our home ground at that level,” added Appere. “It helps having had the experience on the astro–turf.
“It’s a little bit of a challenge for the boys but we’ve trained on it this week. We’ve had a practice on it as a team, which is important, and hopefully we benefit on Friday and do a professional job.”