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Kai Fotheringham: Dundee United dream still burns bright as Tannadice starlet sparkles for Stirling Albion

Fotheringham is keen to keep his place. Image: SNS.
Fotheringham is keen to keep his place. Image: SNS.

Kai Fotheringham’s talent has never been in doubt.

A Dundee United debutant at the age of 17, the Tannadice starlet has long been considered a fine prospect.

However, Fotheringham endured a maddening campaign last term, with a loan stint at Raith Rovers interrupted by persistent ankle issues.

After going under the knife to remedy those issues, he found first team opportunities scarce during a subsequent spell with Cove Rangers — albeit he did depart Balmoral Stadium with a League 1 winners’ medal.

So, seeking to re-energise his burgeoning career, Fotheringham, still only 19 years of age, was sent to Stirling Albion with two messages: get minutes and get numbers.

“Coming through the academy — and even up to playing for the first-team and reserves — one of the issues was that I wasn’t getting my numbers high enough for goals and assists,” Fotheringham told Courier Sport.

“I spoke with Tony (Asghar, sporting director) and Jack Ross, as it was at the time. I’ve also discussed with Foxy (Liam Fox) what they need from me, and the objectives from me going out on loan.

“It was made clear that it wasn’t down to me not catching the eye. It was more about getting minutes, goals and assists — that is what being an attacker is all about.”

Top priority

Well, job done.

When you are prompting parallels with Kylian Mbappé — as Stirling Albion did with a light-hearted tweet comparing Fotheringham and teammate Kyle Banner with the French superstar and Sergio Busquets — then something is going very right.

Fotheringham has found the net three times and, by his count, boasts 10 assists in 10 outings for the League 2 high-flyers.

Albeit, there is some dubiety about the latter. “I was actually speaking to Tony Watt and Liam Smith about whether winning a penalty counts as an assist and they said, ‘aye, that’s an assist’, so we’ll round it up to 10,” smiled Fotheringham.

Fit, firing and loving life at Forthbank, the diminutive playmaker is making up for lost time.

As a young player going on loan — which I’ve done a few times now — you learn to go into different environments,” continued Fotheringham. “The first few weeks can be challenging as you get to know everybody and used to the new surroundings.

“But Stirling Albion has probably been the one where I’ve felt most comfortable in the quickest time.

“I think that’s down to the way they view me as a player and the way they look after me. You are made to feel like an important player, which is something that feels really good for a young player.”

Fotheringham, right, enjoyed a testing stint at Raith last term. Image: SNS

He added: “Yes, it’s a lower league — but at this stage of my development, getting game-time was the top priority. It’s been really successful in that way.”


Fotheringham’s loan with the Binos is understood to conclude on January 3, with talks regarding his future expected in the coming weeks. His top priority, one way or another, is to play regular football.

His deal with United then expires in May of 2023, leaving Fotheringham under no illusions about the importance of the next six months.

And Fotheringham has not given up on his dream of establishing himself as a Terrors regular.

Fotheringham in action for United. Image: SNS

“From the moment I signed my first ever contract with Dundee United, my aim was always to play for the first-team,” continued Fotheringham. “I’ve done that a few times but it’s never been for a consistent period — and that is still my objective.

“I want to play for United and help the club back to where it should be.

“There is someone from Dundee United watching me in most games. I’m speaking to Dave Bowman (coach), Foxy and Craw (Stevie Crawford, assistant head coach) all the time.

“I’m still training with the United first-team, so I get that opportunity for feedback and to discuss my performances.”

He added: “Come January, I’m not too sure what will happen and what United will decide to do. I can only keep doing what I’m doing; play games and trying to impress. I can definitely feel the difference, in terms of my fitness and I hope they can see the same.”

While United’s senior players may be on their World Cup hiatus, there is no rest for wicked — with Fotheringham in action this weekend as Stirling host East Fife on Saturday.