Ryan Dow admits this is the most important season of his Dundee United career so far.
The 22-year-old product of the Tannadice youth system was awarded a starting slot in the Tangerines’ league opener at Partick Thistle last Friday evening, ahead of star names such as Gary Mackay-Steven.
Dow is fully aware he cannot afford to rest on his laurels, such is the competition for places at the club but he is determined to finally cement his place in the side.
He said: “I was delighted to get into the team again at Partick. It was the same side that played in the friendly at Wigan and we did well in that game.
“It was a big confidence booster for myself to get into the starting XI on the first day of the season.
“I feel I have had a good pre-season and the manager has just told me to keep doing what I am doing.
“Obviously, if you are training and playing well, you will get into the team but it is a really good squad this season so everyone has to keep on their toes.
“You can’t let your standards drop as you saw the quality we had on the bench on Friday night.
“I see this as a massive season for myself. In the last two years or so I have been in and out of the team so I am hoping to keep my place and get a good run of games.
“I have always said that is all I am wanting not in and out.
“It has been frustrating over the last couple of years but it is down to me as I have maybe come in for games and not done well enough.
“You can be out for months and it is not easy trying to get back in.
“So it has been frustrating but hopefully, this season, I can make my mark on the team and keep my place.”
Part of Dow’s apprenticeship was served out on loan at Forfar a couple of seasons ago and he admits his spell at Station Park toughened him up as a player.
He said: “I was out on loan at Forfar when I was 19 and it was a great experience. It is a good set-up there and some of the other boys who have been here and left, like Johnny Russell, have also gone to Forfar on loan. It does toughen you up when you go down to the lower leagues.
“When I came back, I felt I was ready to play in the first team but it is about getting that chance and then holding down the position so I have had to be patient.”
Dow is hoping that patience pays off once again this afternoon with another start against Inverness at Tannadice.
He said: “I saw some of their game at the weekend and they looked good but Terry Butcher’s sides always do.
“They had a great season last year and they will be looking to kick on again. I don’t know much about all their new signings but beating St Mirren 3-0 they looked like a decent team.
“But we have signed nine this summer as well so it might be some time before both teams gel fully.”