Aberdeen coach Barry Robson says doing the basics right will help young players get their chance in the first team.
Former Dons midfielder Robson coaches the Reds’ Under-18s as well as being part of Derek McInnes’ first-team staff.
The 41-year-old sees plenty of talent in the youth ranks but insists it will require hard work to make the grade at first-team level.
In recent seasons the likes of Scott McKenna, Scott Wright Connor McLennan, Dean Campbell and Bruce Anderson have progressed from the youth academy.
Robson, who retired from playing in 2016, hopes some of the starlets he’s working with can follow the same path.
But he said: “I always say to them you don’t play for Aberdeen you just train with Aberdeen.
“Until you’ve settled yourself in the first team and played 30, 40, 50-odd games and cemented yourself as a first-team player, that’s when you can call yourself an Aberdeen player.
“It’s training with Aberdeen and they’re working to try to become an Aberdeen player, which I remind them of all the time.
“They might see things a first-team player does and I say ‘you have to have the desire to get there’. If you watch the players the manager has promoted they’ll get a chance, but they have to be ready.
“I think a lot of them think if they go to the first team and score a great free-kick they think they’ve made it.
“You need to be trusted in the first team, you need to be able to win your tackles, track your runners and do the basics of the game first.
“Once you have that the manager can trust you to express yourself and sometimes I think the young players get it the wrong way round.
“They think they need to go in and be this great player, which is true, but they need the basics of the game first.
“Top players and good players will come against a young boy and run off you all day.
“People don’t see that, but we’re watching it all the time and you can lose goals from it. There are principles that need to be put into them first and foremost.
“Once they’ve got that they can let their quality show and it’s my job to install that.
“Once they go to the first team and start training with the first team and they’re not doing the basics right then it’s me that gets it in the neck.
“I wouldn’t want to single anyone out, but we’ve got a few good ones at the minute who I think will have an opportunity to play for Aberdeen at some point if they keep progressing the way they are.”
While the first team are jetting out to Dubai during the Premiership’s winter break, Aberdeen’s U18s are heading to Colina Verde in Portugal for a two-week training camp as a result of funding from Erasmus, the European Union’s fund to support youth education, training and sport.