Tam Courts backs youngest Dundee United player Rory MacLeod to flourish

Tam Courts File Photo
(Image credit: Steve Welsh)

Dundee United head coach Tam Courts believes record-breaker Rory MacLeod can become the latest youth academy player to establish himself in the Tannadice first team.

MacLeod became the youngest debutant in United’s history when he replaced Tony Watt near the end of Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Motherwell – six days after his 16th birthday.

Courts, who stepped up to the take charge of the first team from the youth set-up last summer, said: “That’s the 14th youth academy graduate that I’ve used this year.

“I haven’t tried to give debuts to players coming through the ranks by token gesture but instead by being systematic.

“There is also the approach about how we use the young players and in what positions. With a few things not materialising in the transfer market and Louis Appere departing for Northampton, Rory’s opportunity on Wednesday coincided with that.

“He’s shown regularly in training that he can operate at this level. He’s a guy that now needs to push and add value to the first team and we’re also understanding that’s he’s still young.

“My job at this football club is to get results, performances but also in the medium to long term provide us with a more sustainable future, and a large part of that is allowing players into a first-team environment and making sure they flourish when called upon.”

Courts is expecting a tricky assignment on Saturday when the Tangerines travel to Firhill to face Partick Thistle, who are fifth in the cinch Championship and challenging for promotion.

Courts said: “(Saturday’s) game at Partick Thistle will be similar to the Kilmarnock side that we faced a couple of weeks ago, a top side who will be eager to prove a point and are a Premiership club in stature, so we are under no illusions with the task in hand.

“They’re a team that will undoubtedly have a lot of experience on the pitch and Ian McCall has done a fantastic job with the club.

“It will be a challenge in terms of the pitch, which has been well documented. We are going there fully understanding of the task in hand.”

Adrian Sporle, Kieran Freeman, and Peter Pawlett are ruled out of the Firhill clash with Charlie Mulgrew edging closer to a return.

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