Pool of young talent helps star Andy Robertson

A Scotland under-21 call-up has been just one of Andy Robertson's achievements. Picture: SNS
A Scotland under-21 call-up has been just one of Andy Robertson's achievements. Picture: SNS
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ANDY Robertson has enjoyed a sparkling first season with Dundee United following his elevation from Queen’s Park.

And, after making his debut in the top flight, earning a Scotland under-21 call up and being nominated for the Cheque Centre PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year prize, he could be easily forgiven for adopting a precocious attitude.

However, the innocence of youth shone through during a press conference alongside fellow nominees and team-mates Stuart Armstrong and Ryan Gauld, as well as St Johnstone’s Stevie May, when Robertson was asked how he felt about his dazzling displays prompting attention from a clutch of big-name English clubs. There was no dismissive cliche about it being “just speculation” and neither was there any air of arrogance.

Instead, Robertson spoke in excited tones when he replied: “When you look at the teams who were mentioned, well, I just think…wow! Last season I could only think of watching them and now you are being linked with them!”

Robertson added that it helps that, with so much young talent at Tannadice, there is no shortage of scouts at their games.

“One week it’s me,” he said, “the next it’s Ryan Gauld then it’s someone else. It’s easy [to deal with] and we all have a joke about it. But it doesn’t get to any of us. You cannot let it affect your performance.”

This season has fulfilled his wildest dreams and beyond and Robertson readily admitted there has hardly been time to drink it all in. He added: “I cannot pick a highlight now but, hopefully, when I look back on the season I will be able to.

“Being on this short list [for Young Player of the Year] is just another thing to add to what’s been a great season. I couldn’t have expected any more. I was just hoping to push my way into the first team. I started the first game and I don’t think I’ve really looked back since. I don’t want it any other way and hopefully it continues. People ask me that [how did it happen], but I don’t think it’s at that stage. Maybe when the season’s over I’ll look back and pinch myself a wee bit. My family are a wee bit more taken aback than me because you don’t really get the chance to look back.”

Robertson disclosed that he found it easier than expected to settle into the first-team dressing room due to the large number of young players involved in the set-up. He added: “I didn’t really know what to expect. I thought I’d go up and start with the under-20s in pre-season and, hopefully, prove myself then get moved up to the first team. But, from the first day, I was in with the first team, which gave me a massive boost to start with.

“I was training with them consistently then we went on tour and I thought I did OK in the games. Then we came back and played Dunfermline in a friendly and I knew I had played well in that, but I still didn’t really judge anything on a pre-season friendly.

“I knew I was doing well in training, I’d worked hard in the summer because I knew I’d have to work on my fitness because I’d only been a part-time player. I worked on that, I was fit and ready to go and luckily it paid off.

“My mum and dad said they didn’t know what to expect but I knew that myself. There was no way I expected to go straight into the first-team squad and be in the starting XI. I knew I’d have to work hard and it’s paid off.”

Robertson’s reward for a hard-working summer, when he cancelled a lads’ holiday in Magaluf in favour of pounding around a school track with neighbour and fellow United youngster Aidan Connolly, was a competitive debut in the Premiership opener against Partick Thistle.

Robertson grinned while recalling the occasion and added: “I’m from Glasgow so all my family were there. There was a big support for me and I thought I’d a good chance of starting the game against Partick Thistle, but I still thought I might be on the bench because of my age.

“When I was told I was starting I was a wee bit nervous because it was on telly and there was a bit of hype around it because it was the first game of the new season.

“I thought I settled into the game quite quickly. It was a high-intensity game and I was up and down quite a lot – I was suffering the next day but I think we all were. When I look back I’ve come on a lot since then.”

And the journey is far from finished for Robertson as he looks to end the season with a flourish.