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5 Dundee United prospects who can use international break to impress

Meekison in action. Image: SNS
Meekison in action. Image: SNS

With five Dundee United players away on international duty, interim head coach Liam Fox was quick to accentuate the positives.

“Football is all about opportunities and there are people who don’t go away on international trips,” said Fox following call-ups for Aziz Behich, Ilmari Niskanen, Carljohan Eriksson, Sadat Anaku and Dylan Levitt.

“And we will get to have a closer look at some of the young kids.”

That process began in earnest as United ‘B’ defeated Queen’s Park 2-1 on SPFL Reserve Cup duty, while the under-18s face their Hearts counterparts on Friday.

Sadat Anaku, Dylan Levitt, Aziz Behich, Ilmari Niskanen and Carljohan Eriksson.
United’s international contingent.

Here, Courier Sport casts an eye over the players who can lay down a marker in the absence of their more experienced colleagues.

Archie Meekison

Meekison was the best player on the pitch for United ‘B’ on Tuesday afternoon.

The classy playmaker was afforded an attacking midfield role and repeatedly surged into the Spiders box, breaking the lines and causing havoc in the final third. His passing was crisp and incisive.

Meekison cancelled out Jason Naismith’s opener at St Andrews and came close with a further THREE efforts on goal.

Meekison in action for Dundee United.

One of the Tangerines’ finest performers in the final weeks of last season, Meekison has found first-team football harder to come by this term. He has made just two appearances, with his only start coming in the 9-0 capitulation against Celtic.

That is perhaps to be expected given United found themselves in an alarming spiral. The temptation is to lean on experience.

However, a solid fortnight on the training ground, impressing the coaches and shining for the ‘B’ side can only serve as a potent reminder of his undoubted talent.

Kieran Freeman

With 35 senior outings for United under his belt, Kieran Freeman, 22, can barely be considered a youngster.

Nevertheless, he was diligent and professional this week as he once again staked his claim for a starting berth.

Freeman played the full match in United’s 1-0 win over AZ Alkmaar

Freeman teed up Meekison’s equaliser in the 2-1 victory over Queen’s Park and served to underline his tireless attacking endeavours with a marauding showing down the right flank.

With Liam Smith rippling the net during a solid display against Rangers last weekend, Freeman faces a battle to dislodge the former Hearts man — however, he is clearly primed and ready to grasp any opportunity.

Mathew Cudjoe

Cudjoe burst onto the scene last season with a couple of impactful substitute appearances and is firmly part of the first-team picture following an impressive pre-season campaign with the Tangerines.

He was a particular stand-out in friendlies against Sunderland and Fleetwood Town, and was the sole silver lining in a miserable Premiership defeat against Livingston earlier this term.

However, Cudjoe’s recent cameos against Hearts, St Mirren and Rangers have been less effective.

Cudjoe in United training

A couple of weeks to reset and work on fitness, physicality and shape may not be the worst thing for a 18-year-old who — let’s not forget — is still adjusting to football, and life, in Scotland following his arrival last season.

Flynn Duffy

Duffy, 19, penned a new two-year contract in the close season and remains a highly-regarded prospect at Tannadice.

And with a few bodies away on international duty, and defensive options already rather sparse, he has the opportunity to showcase the talent that saw him make three senior appearances last season.

He was utilised at left centre-back as United ‘B’ fielded a 3-5-2 on Tuesday and repeatedly stepped forward and sought to start attacks; calm on the ball and aggressive without it.

Flynn Duffy in action against Dundee during a loan stint with Peterhead last term.

That versatility will be valuable for a player who can also play at left-back and left wing-back.

Duffy enjoyed a successful season on loan with Peterhead last season and, with the loan window for lower league clubs closing on October 1, the next question will be whether he is considered part of the first-team group at Tannadice or will again be farmed out.

Adam Hutchinson

Imposing centre-back Hutchinson will need to wait for his United opportunity as he enjoys a loan spell with Montrose.

The 19-year-old has only make one appearances for the Links Park outfit (dislodging Kerr Waddell or ex-United hero Sean Dillon is no easy task) but he was superb for the ‘B’ side in St Andrews.

The Scotland under-16 international marshalled the back-three, was dominant in the air and composed in possession; spreading a couple of outstanding cross-field passes.

If considering an unexpected beneficiary of this international hiatus, Hutchinson could be it.

Emerging as a standout while on the same pitch as experienced campaigners such as Craig Sibbald and Scott McMann can only have impressed the  watching senior coaching staff.