Dundee United youngsters sent on holiday to recover

Ryan Gauld: Transfer links. Picture: SNS
Ryan Gauld: Transfer links. Picture: SNS
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Teenagers John Souttar and Ryan Gauld will miss Dundee United’s visit to Ross County on Saturday after being sent on a sunshine break.

Manager Jackie McNamara has decided the pair need a holiday to rediscover their spark after playing 42 first-team games between them this season.

United have failed to win in five Scottish Premiership games following a six-game run of victories and McNamara believes the move will benefit the team and both 17-year-old defender Souttar and 18-year-old Gauld.

McNamara told the club’s official blog: “We have asked a lot of them and this is the first Christmas period they have not had time off due to their progression to the first-team squad.

“In the summer both were away with Scotland and played right through. Every international break, they have been involved so this is the right decision that will ensure they are ready for the second half of the season and give them a rest.

“I am conscious that we have asked a lot of both players recently and this was why I left Ryan out of the last game. I see both them in training every day and the spark has been missing a little.”

Playmaker Gauld has seen himself linked with the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United, while Souttar rejected a move to Sunderland this season in order to continue his development at Tannadice.

McNamara feels a spell out of the limelight will help.

“This is an opportunity for them to relax and take stock of what’s happened in their lives in the last six months,” the former Celtic and Scotland player said. “It has been a massive ask for both of them and while I would love to keep playing them week in, week out, I have to look after them and this is for the best.

“The learning curve they have been on is huge and it is incredible that they have handled it so well.

“Through my own playing experience of being a young player coming through, I know the demands, the pressure and the expectation that is placed on you.

“Add in the transfer speculation over them and it will take an effect because they are only human, so a few days away in the sun will help immensely.

“This break will benefit the players and the club as the season progresses and that is the most important aspect.”