With a significant summer rebuild on the cards for Dundee United, boss Jim Goodwin faces a busy summer in the transfer market as he seeks to craft a Championship-winning squad.
However, the club’s relegation to the second tier may also provide a glimmer of opportunity for some players already on the books.
Whether out on loan, plagued by injuries or out of favour under previous bosses, Goodwin will consider at a host of hopefuls with fresh eyes when the group reports for pre-season training this month.
Here, Courier Sport looks at five individuals who could feasibly be a part of United’s Championship charge.
When Meekison suffered a serious hamstring injury on his first appearance for Falkirk — having joined the Bairns on loan to gain some valuable first-team minutes — it rather exemplified a nightmare season.
Prior to that ill-fated move, the gifted midfielder had been limited to 10 appearances during 2022/23. Just one of those was a start.
After a fine end to the prior campaign, helping United seal European qualification under Tam Courts, he found regular action more elusive during the reigns of Jack Ross and, subsequently, Liam Fox.
🗣 "The main thing when you come on as a young boy is trust. I hope I've repaid the gaffer's faith."
📺 DUTV subscribers can hear from Our Academy graduate Archie Meekison after he made his first team debut away at Kilmarnock midweek ➡️ https://t.co/1O081ZKuCo#UnitedTogether pic.twitter.com/kbeoCE0eHK
— Dundee United FC (@dundeeunitedfc) April 23, 2021
However, Meekison is now fit and well following an admirably swift recovery.
And he remains a top young talent. Dynamic, confident and very tidy on the ball, he has rarely looked out of his depth during his 23 senior outings for the Terrors.
In common with every creative United player, he could do with being surrounded with a couple of combative presences — something Goodwin is seeking to address — to allow him the freedom to thrive.
Perhaps the most natural successor to Dylan Levitt, should there be suitors for the Wales international this summer.
With 40 appearances for United already under his belt, Chalmers is no stranger to the United first-team picture.
However, next season may be his last chance to cement a starting berth.
Still contracted until the summer of 2024, Chalmers has shown an aptitude to excel in the Championship.
During a fine loan stint, he was a key part in Ayr United’s promotion challenge during the first half of the season — notching a combined six goals and assists (G/A) — before being farmed out to Tranmere Rovers.
💥 Another great strike from Logan Chalmers at the weekend pic.twitter.com/K3mSo6yfpH
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) April 11, 2022
Chalmers was similarly effective during Inverness’ charge to the Premiership playoff final during the 2021/22 campaign, notching six G/A in 18 outings.
In a team crying out for direct, impactful wingers — United were forced to deploy full-back Aziz Behich in that role as they fought for survival last-term — Chalmers would seem like a viable option.
Dundee United must effectively rebuild their defence next term.
Loick Ayina has returned to Huddersfield, Ryan Edwards has departed the club and Charlie Mulgrew — fresh from a challenging campaigning terms of form and fitness — will be another year older.
Graham came into the United side for the final two matches of last term but, prior to those ill-fated collapses, saw his progress stall.
Before starting against Kilmarnock, his previous appearances came in February.
Following a sensational second half of last season — making his United debut, scoring against Rangers and earning Scotland under-21 recognition — it was a somewhat chastening campaign.
One of our own going from strength to strength 💪
— Dundee United FC (@dundeeunitedfc) April 2, 2022
Nevertheless, still aged just 22 and contracted to the club until 2024, it could also be a formative one.
Graham has the pace and power to excel in the Championship and, in doing so, bury the memories of a miserable loan stint at that level with Dunfermline in 2021.
Decision-making and distribution must improve, and it will be vital that Goodwin adds a couple of proven, quality centre-halves to the pool to aid Graham’s progress.
Mochrie, 20, has benefitted from a fine stint at Dunfermline.
During the initial months of his loan spell last season, he was one of the brightest stars in League One, impacting games with killer passes, intelligent movement and, on occasion, clinical finishing.
Delightful first touch and finish by Chris Mochrie for Dunfermline yesterday. The Dundee United kid is flying with the Pars 🏁
Another goal for Kai Fotheringham at Stirling too ⚽️
— Alan Temple (@alanftemple) November 20, 2022
His influence may have waned slightly towards the end of the season but he still returns to Tannadice with six G/A from 36 appearances and — more pertinently — a winner’s medal.
By his own admission, Mochrie, once United’s youngest ever player, is more steeled and ready to compete for a senior berth at Tannadice than when he was a fresh-faced teenager.
And, given Kai Fotheringham used a spell at Stirling Albion as a springboard to the United side last term, there is no reason to think Mochrie cannot do the same.
Arguably the closest thing to the departed Peter Pawlett that United have on their books; a player who can drive forward in possession, find clever spaces between the lines and contribute to goals.
Flynn DuffyLike Mochrie, another youngster returning to pre-season as a league champion following a successful loan stint at Stirling Albion.
Duffy, 19, made 13 appearances for the Binos, notching two goals from left-back.
The second of those strikes was an unforgettable low drive to get the promotion party started, making it 3-1 against Annan Athletic. He joins Fotheringham in claiming a medal from their time at Forthbank.
As well as providing an energetic, confident presence in defence — and a mature head on young shoulders — Duffy has stepped into central defence on occasion, potentially affording United a degree of versatility as they run with a smaller squad.