Matty Smith has been urged to make himself the star of Dundee United’s promotion run-in.
Smith celebrated his 21st birthday in some style when he scored twice for the Tangerines in their morale-boosting 3-1 away win over Queen of the South on Tuesday.
That brace added to the goal he grabbed against Livingston in United’s previous match to make it three in two Championship games for the local lad.
Smith is threatening to become a key player for Csaba Laszlo’s side and teammate Paul Quinn urged his young colleague to “keep grabbing the headlines” in the club’s remaining 12 matches.
He looks like a sure starter today when Inverness Caley Thistle visit Tannadice and Quinn is looking for the frontman to keep the momentum going.
Quinn said: “We are not surprised about Matty and how well he is doing.
“Everyone is working hard with him to make him a better player and to get more out of Matty.
“We know the quality he’s got and he is taking his chance just now, scoring goals as well as working hard for the team.
“He’s got plenty about him.
“He might be a quiet lad but he digs in, puts his body on the line and works his socks off for the team.
“That is why he ends up getting goals because that hard work gets him into positions and he has that extra bit of quality to finish chances off.
“Of course, Matty is now right in the fold and there are so many games to be played still that he is going to be used a lot by the manager.
“I have told him that he has to keep grabbing the headlines,” added Quinn.
“It’s a stage for him to go and play and a platform from which he can go and build his career.
“For the last part of the season, we arguably need someone to go and grab the limelight and there is no reason why it can’t be Matty.
“We have good players all over this team but a young one like him with fresh ideas and fresh ability is always important.
“He can play with a freedom and, as long as we help and guide him, Matty can do really well for United.”
Quinn grabbed some of the attention himself down in Dumfries in midweek when the defender played in a holding midfield role in front of centre-back pair Tam Scobbie and Mark Durnan.
His performance pleased manager Laszlo and the former Aberdeen, Ross County and Motherwell man is willing to play there again if it helps the team.
Quinn said: “It was a bit of challenge and something different for me.
“I have done it in small doses before but it was good and I enjoyed it.
“It is nice to be able to play another position and help the team out in that way.
“I was pleased enough and it’s all about keeping us a bit safer at the back. I felt I gave our back-line a bit of a rest.
“It was something we worked on and we got a good result out of it so it was all positive.”
Another positive from the Palmerston performance was that United showed character by coming from back from 1-0 down to win pretty comfortably.
Quinn said: “I think when you concede a goal with a bit of quality in it and there’s nothing really in the game you can mentally block it out.
“We continued doing what we were doing and got a little bit of luck by how quickly we scored.
“I think a lot of people would have feared for us going 1-0 down, although we believed we could come back and have players who can score goals.
“The fact that we got level and became stronger after that proves we have got the team spirit which has been questioned and rightly so.
“It shows people that when the chips are down we’re ready to battle.”