Robbie Neilson has praised his senior pros for making it easy for him to introduce kids during Dundee United’s Betfred Cup group campaign.
Teenager Scott Banks was the latest to start as the Tangerines beat Cowdenbeath 3-0 on Friday night to move within a win of qualifying for the knockout stages.
The 17-year-old had a hand in two of the goals and almost netted himself on a couple of occasions as he played a starring role on his first competitive start.
After he’d gone off, 20-year-old Louis Appere then rounded off the scoring with a header from a cross provided by 19-year-old Logan Chalmers.
That pair impressed in the win at Stenhousemuir last week but Robbie feels his established performers were major influences in that.
“I think the senior players have had a big part to play. They take the pressure off and, with the physicality, look after them and give them options to play,” he said.
“The development of a young player isn’t only what the young player does, it’s the environment they’re in.
“The senior players set that, the coaching staff, the club as a whole and the fans have a part to play in that as well.
“They’ll make mistakes, they’re young. It’s important that we give them that leeway.
“The likes of Calum Butcher, Mark Reynolds, Mark Connolly, Nick Clark to an extent as well, are experienced players.
“They give them that base that they can go and play and, if there’s any physical issue, they can help them out.”
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While he has high hopes of Banks, Appere, Chalmers and several others, the gaffer is not getting carried away by their early promise.
“You’ve got to realise it was a lower league team we were playing against. You’re going to get space, you’re going to get time on the ball, you’re not going to get punished for mistakes.
“As we move into the Championship, we manage these players and pick the right games to put them in.
“Over the course of the next six months to a year we’ll see more and more of them – if they continue to progress and continue to polish off the rough edges.”
United now face East Fife in the final group game today.