Most managers are adept at assessing the progress made by a youth player.
All are good at telling you about it. Yet there is often one gauge for the success of a young talent which will not be noted by a manager; it pertains to where a player ends up once he has graduated to prominence.
Coaches will seldom assess the quality of suitors for their players openly, but Danny Lennon may well have found himself stealing a glance at the stands during matches to see which clubs have sent scouts along to have a look at his better players.
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At the top of their lists will be Kenny McLean. The midfielder has become an established presence in the St Mirren midfield despite being just 20 and the likes of Burnley and Wolverhampton Wanderers have been linked with moves in January. Both are able to offer the sort of fees which St Mirren cannot afford to turn down and it could be McLean is playing out his final weeks at the Paisley club.
That is something which will discomfit Lennon but there is a parental instinct to the St Mirren manager which will compel him to offer advice on what is best for his player's career. "I haven't spoken to Kenny but the best thing he can do is to keep doing his talking on the pitch and what will come for him will come," said Lennon, whose side will face St Johnstone today. "We haven't had direct or official interest [from other clubs] but it is no secret; you see scouts at every home game. But I welcome anyone to come and see what we are doing at our club; it is a sign that we are heading in the right direction."
Lennon has not been idle in his own scouting and has invited Dom Dwyer, the English-born Sporting Kansas striker, to train with his squad with a view to a short-term contract during Major League Soccer's off-season. "I became aware of Dom through an agent. Kansas' season is over and there are one or two of the MLS players trying to get over [to the UK]," explained Lennon yesterday. "It would only be a short term one for us so we will have to wait and see but the reports we have had on him are positive."
St Johnstone are not able to look quite so far ahead. Not yet, anyway. The Perth side have been placed in the unusual position of having to prepare for a league match this afternoon and then a Scottish Cup replay on Monday – a fourth-round tie with Cowdenbeath having been postponed twice due to the cold weather.
"It's not ideal. It's probably the first time in my career that I've done it," said Murray Davidson, the St Johnstone midfielder. "I know that on the Sunday you feel okay and the Monday comes and you feel a lot more stiff.
"So as soon as the game finishes on Saturday, more than any other game, we have got to make sure we are doing the right things to get ready for Monday. Ice baths, eating right, drinking right, getting everything back in your body to make sure you are as close to 100% as you can be."