Dundee United boss Jackie McNamara believes that Charlie Telfer being named SPFL Young Player of the Month for November is a fitting reward for the way the youngster has dealt with the burden of expectation since his move from Rangers.
The 19-year-old midfielder signed for the Tangerines in the summer after deciding that his first-team chances would be limited at Ibrox.
He had to be patient for his chance at Tannadice but really blossomed last month, also notching his first goal for the club against St Mirren.
United and Rangers are still locked in a battle over the level of compensation due to the Glasgow side, which will finally be settled by a tribunal next week.
McNamara insists that to Telfer’s credit he has not allowed that to be a distraction and instead has firmly retained his focus on establishing himself as a first-team regular with the Tangerines.
McNamara said: “It’s great recognition for how Charlie has done in the past month.
“I’m very happy for him. He’s had to wait patiently for the opportunity.
“So this should give him a good bit of confidence.
“I think all the younger players are getting better, like Charlie, Aidan (Connolly) and Blair (Spittal).
“They’re all part of it now.
“They train every day and want to be in the first-team.
“They want to play in every match so, from my point of view, it’s a good problem for me to have.
McNamara added: “Charlie is getting his opportunity, but not for any other reason than he’s good enough to go and play.
“He’s done well in the games he’s played.
“He’s got plenty of ability as you can see which is the reason we brought him here.
“There was a bit of pressure coming from Rangers.
“The expectation was there but he’s handled it well, on and off the park.
“I think Aidan and Blair have been excellent as well.
“There are a number of lads coming up to that age who see a pathway through to the first-team.
“They have come into the under-20s team and done well.
“Look at the amount of games John Souttar has played and he’s still only 19 years old.
“You forget that but he’s learning all the time. You can see so much difference in his game.”
Telfer and the rest of the United squad head for the Highlands to play Ross County in the league tonight.
Jarek Fojut and John Rankin have recovered from illness and injury respectively while another duo, Nadir Ciftci and Callum Morris, who were suspended for last week’s Scottish Cup game at Motherwell, are available to play against the Staggies.
All of which means that McNamara has the “happiest” of selection headaches to deal with.
The manager said: “Jarek has trained with us and should be OK after his illness last week.
“Ranks has trained so he’s back in contention as well.
“And the other two who were suspended for last week Nadir and Callum Morris are free to play.
“Again, I’ve got some good decisions to make.
“That’s what I need. There are a lot of big games coming up.
“It was like last weekend against Motherwell in the cup, I lost two centre-halves, one through illness and the other through suspension.
“Up front, we’ve had Mario Bilate out and John Rankin missed out last week too, but we still looked strong.
“So for me that bodes well for what’s going to be a tough few months.”
United will face a County side tonight still adjusting to the relatively new management regime of boss Jim McIntyre and his assistant, another former Tangerines striker, Billy Dodds.
McNamara admitted he had seen a change in approach from the Staggies which his players will have to deal with as they look to put their previously poor Friday night record to bed.
McNamara said: “I see a difference in County. As usual, it will be a tough game up there.
“We want to win the match first and foremost but if we can take our chances, hopefully we can get a victory.
“The Friday nights have been disappointing so far.
“It’s in contrast to last season when we were unbeaten on Friday nights.
“It would be nice to get a Friday night win for the first time this year.”