Dundee United defender John Souttar has issued an ominous warning to their Scottish Premiership rivals by claiming the Tannadice side have yet to hit top form.
The Tannadice men blasted 22 goals during a sensational six-game winning streak that was only halted by a surprise 4-1 drubbing by St Mirren on Boxing Day.
They were then humbled 3-0 by St Johnstone on Sunday as boss Jackie McNamara made eight changes to his fatigued side.
But they now welcome Aberdeen to Tayside on New Year’s Day looking to return to winning ways and Souttar has promised that, under the guidance of McNamara, the likes of Ryan Gauld, Andrew Robertson and Stuart Armstrong have still to hit top gear.
He said: “The last two games have been disappointing but I just want to move on and get back to Tannadice where we have played a lot of good stuff this year.
“The gaffer believes in all of his players and I can tell you we have got a lot more to come. I don’t think we have been properly at our best in any game this season yet - I mean top form.
“We played well against Motherwell when we beat them 4-0 but I think we can do even better.”
And 17-year-old Souttar, who will complete a year of first-team involvement against the side he made his debut against when the Dons visit Tannadice, also praised the impact of his current manager and the man who gave him his first-team introduction, former United boss Peter Houston.
He said: “Looking back to last year, I never thought that come this stage I’d have played so many games in the first team.
“I’ve been a big part of the side which I didn’t expect. I’d only been full-time for about half a season before my debut when the old gaffer threw me in. I can’t even remember how old I was, 16 or something.
“I was obviously really young, I still am. But I have developed and learned lot. So I owe a lot to Peter Houston for putting me in there and the new gaffer for keeping me in the side.
“Jackie played me against Celtic in a Scottish Cup semi when it was only my fourth game. The fact that he had the confidence in Gauldy and I to put us in for that game was massive for the both of us. He left out seasoned pros to put us in and it was a huge confidence boost.”
The in-demand youngster was the subject of a £600,000 bid by Sunderland earlier this season while Everton and QPR were also interested.
But he knocked back the move south and instead penned a new two-and-a-half year deal as he feared becoming the latest young Scot to find himself lost in England.
And Souttar claims that sharing a dressing room with teenage sensation Gauld and Scotland Under-21 skipper Armstrong - who have also been linked with big moves recently - the speculation is easily laughed off.
He said: “It’s been easy to blank out all the stuff that has been said and written about me. I don’t notice any of that, I just concentrate on making sure I’m doing my job on the park.
“It’s easier too because it’s not just me who has had this stuff said or written. There are a few of us in the same position.
“It just gets laughed off and becomes a joke. There are a lot of good characters in our dressing room that will not let any young boy get ahead of himself. Our feet are well planted to the ground.”