Tam Courts believes his Tangerine teens gave supporters a tantalising glimpse of an exciting future for Dundee United.
However, the Tannadice boss was also at pains to praise the nurturing influence of his senior stars following a gutsy 1-0 defeat against Rangers.
A James Tavernier penalty kick settled the contest at Ibrox, with Scott McMann adjudged to have handled a cross from the Gers captain.
Nevertheless, a Covid-hit United side emerged with their pride firmly in tact following splendid displays by the likes of Darren Watson and Craig Moore — both making their first Premiership starts — and Chris Mochrie.
Peter Pawlett, Ian Harkes, Jeando Fuchs and Ilmari Niskanen all missed out from the side which lost to Livingston the previous week. Dylan Levitt was also absent.
“We’ve had a massively disrupted week but thankfully we managed to do a lot of work on the training pitch, which we saw,” said Courts. “I thought the young lads, in particular, were excellent. They were really brave.
“Our young players stood up to the task of facing Rangers really well.
“They came out of today with a lot of credibility and have hopefully given some insight into the youth we are going to see in the future.
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow that a penalty separated the two teams because I thought our organisation and bravery on the ball were excellent.”
The likes of Charlie Mulgrew, Ryan Edwards and Trevor Carson also shone and Courts added: “A special mention needs to go to the senior players.
“They led from the front, gave the boys options and the confidence to play on this sort of platform.”
United even hit the bar through Watson deep into injury time, coming agonisingly close to claiming a point.
“I didn’t think a draw would have been anything other than just rewards for our efforts,” added Courts.
The United boss confirmed that five players had returned positive Covid tests in the week preceding the trip to Glasgow.
Asked when those players will return to the group, Courts added: “For the most part, it will probably be the middle of the week, unless there are any developments in the next 48 hours from a political perspective.”