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Dundee United kid Kerr Smith already learning from experienced defender Charlie Mulgrew

Dundee United defenders Charlie Mulgrew and Kerr Smith.

Dundee United youngster Kerr Smith says he’s already learning from experienced defender Charlie Mulgrew.

New United signing Mulgrew (35) is nearly 20 years Smith’s senior and has been passing on tips to the Terrors kid in the first week of pre-season training.

The 16-year-old centre-back is highly thought of and last season courted interest from Premier League teams like Aston Villa and Manchester United.

‘This boy’s ready’: Mark Connolly puts own tough times aside to rave about Dundee United kid Kerr Smith

He had trials south of the border but remains in the Tangerines’ squad for the new campaign after signing professional terms.

He’ll face stiff competition for a starting jersey in the form of ex-Scotland captain Mulgrew, Terrors skipper Mark Reynolds, Mark Connolly and Ryan Edwards.

However, the rising star doesn’t see it like that. He’s simply trying to soak all their knowledge up like a sponge.

‘I listen to everything he’s telling me’

“I’ve spoken to Charlie a lot this week and he’s been really good with me,” he said, speaking to Dundee United’s official website.

“He’s, obviously, an experienced player so I listen to everything he’s telling me.

“We’ve been partnered together in some of the small-sided games and it’s been great to play alongside him.

Veteran Dundee United star Charlie Mulgrew.

“I’d like to play with him in an actual game at some point because I think our games would suit each other.

“It’s great to have experienced defenders here to learn from. The skipper, Conns, Ryan and now Charlie who’ve played at the highest level.

“If I’m unsure about something I will go ask them for advice but I learn more from playing alongside them and watching what they do.”

Smith no longer nervous in top-team training

Pre-season can be tough at the best of times but for a 16-year-old experiencing his first, it can be gruelling.

However, Smith is taking it in his stride and looking forward to the campaign ahead, which starts in two weeks as United take on Kelty Hearts in the Premier Sports Cup.

The teenager added: “Obviously, pre-season is going to be hard but it’s getting us ready for the start of the new campaign.

Kerr Smith tracks Kilmarnock’s Kyle Lafferty last term.

“You need to be going into the new season fit, strong and ready to win games.

“I’m used to the speed of first-team training now, having been part of it all last season.

“There’s a big difference in comparison to U/18s training but I can handle it.

“I used to get nervous when I would step up to train with the first team but I know them all now and they’re my team-mates so it’s much easier for me to settle down.”

United kid targeting more starts

Smith made five Premiership appearances under ex-boss Micky Mellon last season and is targeting more this time out.

The fledgling is hopeful his relationship with new head coach Thomas Courts, previously a coach in United’s academy, means he’s more likely to get chances.

Smith commented: “To get five games in the Premiership at 16-years-old is a pretty good return, but I want to get more.

Former boss Micky Mellon gave 16-year-old Kerr Smith his Dundee United debut off the bench at Rangers earlier in the year. The youngster went on to make five appearances last season.

“I’m looking to get 10-15 games a season.

“I think the gaffer’s got a lot of trust in me because he’s coached me for a long time now through the U/18s.

“I’ve just got to keep working hard in training because nothing is definite.

“If I don’t train well then I’m not going to deserve to play but, for me, that’s not going to happen. I’m going to go in there and earn my place.”

EXCLUSIVE: Carpool chats with Kerr Smith have Ryan Edwards believing Dundee United kid has drive to reach the top

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