Dundee United manager Micky Mellon insists he put out a side which was good enough to beat Kilmarnock on Wednesday.
But the Tannadice boss also welcomed the chance to spend Thursday’s training session working with a number of first-team players with Sunday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final clash at Aberdeen in mind.
Mellon made seven changes for Wednesday’s Rugby Park clash and handed first starts to 16-year-old defender Kerr Smith and midfielder Florent Hoti, while bringing 18-year-old Archie Meekison off the bench for a debut.
The rest of his side had plenty of experience but Kyle Lafferty’s 11-minute hat-trick late in the first half consigned the visitors to a 3-0 defeat and hauled Killie out of the relegation danger zone.
Mellon said: “Dundee United is a club with different strands to the job and one of them is to get young players into the first team. When the opportunity comes to do that, and I think they are ready, then I am keen to do that.
“Wednesday night presented me with the opportunity, because I believed they were ready, to come in and show us where they were up to.
“We had Kerr and young Florent Hoti, Archie Meekisonn, Louis Appere is still very young. I thought they all did really well. There is still room for development but they are all very young.
“The result didn’t go the way we wanted it to go, we want to win every game we take part in.
“And it was important to stress that the integrity of the league was at the forefront of my mind and I wouldn’t have put them in if I didn’t believe we could have gained a result.
“But a few moments – not periods – moments, we didn’t deal with right and found ourselves in a difficult position. But we kept battling and playing away and showed enough signs to believe we can be excited about their futures.
“We felt the opportunity was right and to be able to give some of the other group a bit of a breather was good.
“We bat that game off now and face the Aberdeen game, and the beauty of that is we can work with six or seven players who didn’t play on Wednesday night immediately whereas they would have probably had a day off and recovered on Friday.”
United are still waiting on the results of a scan on goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist’s injured wrist and he looks likely to miss the Pittodrie clash.