St Johnstone are second in the Scottish Premiership table for minutes played by under-21 footballers this season.
A global study by the CIES Football Observatory – covering 1,292 clubs and 93 divisions – has revealed only Hearts pip Saints when it comes to youngsters getting an opportunity during the 2019/20 campaign.
Just over 20 per cent of Jambos minutes are attributed to the Tynecastle club’s starlets with Saints’ figure sitting at 18.8 per cent.
Former boss Tommy Wright, whose departure was announced on Saturday, said in March that 20-year-old Ali McCann deserved to be crowned Scotland’s young player of the season and in contention for the overall award.
Wallace Duffy and on-loan Celtic kid Anthony Ralston, both 21, have featured for the McDiarmid Park side this season while Callum Hendry – who turned 22 in December – has scored nine goals in 27 appearances.
Speaking to The Courier last month, Wright said: “There are a lot of perceptions in football.
“One was that I was not interested in young players and that St Johnstone don’t play them.
“That is a lot of rubbish. You need to be good enough to get in the team and it does not matter if you are 18 or 38.
“What we have done should give all the young players the encouragement to make sure they give everything every day in training.
“If they develop and listen, opportunities will come.”
Slovakia’s Super Liga, at 29 per cent, is the top division for under-21 minutes compared to the Scottish Premiership’s 13.4 per cent figure.
CEIS Football Observatory say: “Early professional experience is key to succeed in football.
“Great discrepancies exist between clubs and leagues in the opportunities given to young players to prove their talent.”
Scottish Premiership U-21 minutes league table (%)
Hearts – 20.6
St Johnstone – 18.8
Celtic – 18.7
Hamilton Accies – 18.3
St Mirren – 18
Motherwell – 18
Aberdeen – 14.3
Ross County – 11.2
Livingston – 7
Kilmarnock – 6.8
Hibs – 6.6
Rangers – 1.7