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NEWS: GEORGE CRAN: Why Dundee could be the City of Discovery for the next generation of talented young players

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This year and all the strife the global pandemic has brought means 2020/21 is the season of the emerging talent.

Especially in this fine city – both clubs will be showing us just how much ability there is coming through their respective academies.

And, with money tight for just about everybody, the chances for youngsters will be far greater to make their mark in first-team football.

We’ve already seen it, too. In his first season as manager at Dens Park, James McPake had absolutely no qualms about throwing in talented youngsters.

It helped he’d coached the U/18s previously and knew just how good these players were before he stepped up to the big job.

And if Fin Robertson isn’t a poster boy for how good a young Dundonian footballer can be, I don’t know who is.

Robertson was joined last season by Lyall Cameron, Callum Moore and Josh Mulligan in getting some first-team action.

With budgets tightened for bringing in new experienced faces, the opportunity is sitting there for these boys to seize a regular spot in the starting XI.

The quality coming through also shows why academy chiefs at Dens are working so hard right now to maintain as much of the existing structure as they can, despite the financial hit caused by the shutdown.

Across the road, too, we’ve seen Micky Mellon utilise the young players at Dundee United – Logan Chalmers, Lewis Neilson and Kieran Freeman have all had decent game time. And, in his own words, the Tannadice gaffer plans to unleash even more.

I expected the Tangerines to be flexing their muscles in the transfer market this summer on their return to the top flight.

Obviously, the pandemic and the drop in finances has seen them change that plan.

And who benefits? The players that fans want to see more than anything – one of their own getting a chance.

I really hope out of this disaster of a year, for just about everybody in the world, we can see young players in this city benefit from greater opportunity.

We’ll have to wait and see for Dundee when they get going again in seven weeks but there are a few additional names we might see get a go next term – Sam Fisher, Luke Strachan and possibly Calum Ferrie.

Who knows, this season could make Dundee the City of Discovery for the next generation of young players.

I don’t expect this weekend’s clash with champions Celtic to teach us much we don’t already know about this Dundee United side.

The Hoops are the big favourites to retain their title again and I can’t see anyone getting near them.

For Micky Mellon and his Tangerines, though, they’ll no doubt see it as a chance to teach the likes of me something new – that they can go and mix it with the best in this country.

That’s the overall aim after all.

Dundee United's Lawrence Shankland. © SNS
Dundee United’s Lawrence Shankland.

Neil Lennon’s men will be well rested after their enforced break but there might be some cobwebs having grown thanks to Boli Bolingoli’s wee holiday to Spain.

And United are full of confidence right now, they’ll be eager to put on a good display.

A promoted team against the reigning champions, though, it’s a free hit for United – especially after the start they’ve made.

Meanwhile, QPR’s reported £2 million bid for Lyndon Dykes should be music to the ears of United – if he’s worth that, Lawrence Shankland is worth double at least.

I’ve still not recovered from the shock of seeing QPR willing to shell out that amount of money to sign Dykes from Livingston.

I can’t believe it’s the same player I, and every other Doonhamer at Palmerston, used to moan and groan about every week.

To be fair, we have missed him and Stephen Dobbie has toiled without him up top at Queen of the South.

Good luck to him down south but, for me, it’s a massive gamble for QPR.

Man United’s Europa League demise was tough to watch. Not only because they were the better team but because the goals lost were dreadful. Much of the team were out on their feet but there were no subs to change the game.

‘That’s the size of the club’ Dundee United manager Micky Mellon expects his team to pick up wins on the road despite having only just returned to the Premiership

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