Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes says it’s possible fans could see some of Aberdeen’s Scottish Youth Cup finalists in the first team THIS term.
The Dons colts side missed out on lifting the trophy at Hampden last month as they lost 3-1 to Hibernian.
However, this hasn’t taken the shine off a campaign which has not only seen them reach the national showpiece, but also left them fourth in the Development League table.
McInnes often watches Paul Sheerin’s charges, including at Hampden, and said, despite first-team football being a big step up, he isn’t ruling out some making the jump before the end of the campaign.
Of their chances, he said: “Possibly. It’s a step up to playing senior football.
“Obviously Bruce (Anderson) has gone out on loan (to Elgin City in the first half of the campaign, scoring six times).
“It’s up to all the youngsters to keep showing that level of performance through their games and through their training.
“The likes of Bruce and (skipper) Dean (Campbell) have been there or thereabouts this season.
“They’ve been involved in squads, although they’ve not really managed to have that impact.
“Who knows, we’ve got suspensions coming up and sometimes when somebody really goes and makes your mind up for you by playing so well, sometimes you’re leaning as a manager to put them in. (Scott) McKenna certainly did that this year.”
Defender McKenna, 21, is now a mainstay of the Reds backline after starting the reason in the U20s and last term on loan at relegation-bound Ayr United.
He captained McInnes’ side in the Scottish Cup semi-final against Motherwell at Hampden and has also been capped twice by Scotland boss Alex McLeish this term.
What the Reds gaffer is looking for in the colts – a side he thinks coach Sheerin has “done a great job with” – is “who brings the big performance in the big games, who deals with the situation”.
Young striker Bruce Anderson ages out of the U20s in September, while Campbell is still only 17.
Seb Ross, David Craddock, Connor McLennan and Daniel Harvie have also been around the first team squad at points this term.
Frank Ross, 20, made a big impact at the middle point of the season, scoring a free-kick against Rangers at Pittodrie before going on loan to Morton.
McInnes says, although it is “ideal” for Aberdeen to feed their first team with youth talent, it sometimes isn’t compatible with the demands placed on the senior side.
He said: “In an ideal world you want to get as many through from your academy to supplement the back end of your squad, without question.
“In time, hopefully they become established like McKenna.
“To utilise what we have as a budget that would always be the ideal scenario.
“But at the same time I’ve got a job to keep my team at the top end of table, I’ve got a job to keep my team in Europe, to keep winning cups.
“With youngsters it’s difficult the way the team’s went. It might be a bit more difficult for them to break through and establish themselves, but the likes of McKenna shows it can be done.”