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Now up and running after a false start

ANDREW ROBERTSON is worth keeping an eye on.

Andrew Robertson has been a revelation since he arrived at Tannadice
Andrew Robertson has been a revelation since he arrived at Tannadice

That has become an axiom in Scottish football this season given the Dundee United full-back yesterday collected his Player of the Month award for November, but it is also a useful rule of thumb for anyone who might try to catch up with him. The teenager had arrived at training early to receive his accolade, although it would not take him long to become disinterested in his own hype and begin rooting around in a bag of spare balls.

The defender signed from Queen's Park in the summer but a sense of self-importance has not followed him to Tannadice. Instead Robertson has accelerated his progression into the first team - marking his inaugural campaign with four goals in his last three matches and a series of coruscating runs from left-back. It was tempting to assume that about the only thing he couldn't outrun is the cold; the teenager cradling his award with a thick pair of gloves, while looking out at the cameras from underneath a beanie hat.

There has been no disguising his talent this term, though, even if not everyone was able to see it at first. Robertson's galloping runs from out of defence have perhaps been the most impressive feature of his play since alighting in the top flight, so it was somewhat surprising to learn that he has walked a familiar path to get there. A bright youngster in the Celtic youth set up, his coaches were of the opinion that he would not measure up to the required standard and cut him loose.

Robertson fell to the lowest rung of the league set up with Queen's Park, before untangling himself from the disappointment of leaving Parkhead. He has returned to the top flight as one of the most exciting young players in the country.

"I was let go by Celtic at under-15 level for being too small. That was the reason they gave me, anyway," said Robertson, whose side face Hearts this afternoon. "I went to Queen's Park and people might have thought that was a strange decision. I guess it is a step down. However, Queen's Park have a great youth set-up and they made me the player I am today. Luckily, I burst into the first team there and now I am here.

"Being told that by Celtic did make me all the more determined to succeed in the game. My confidence took a hit and, on reflection, in my first season at Queen's Park I maybe wasn't playing as well as I had been. Fortunately, the youth development coaches put faith in me and I kicked on from about the age of 17."

Typically, that has been performed at pace given that Robertson is only 19 now. His progress has been buttressed by a stern confidence but also an ability to administer self-reproach should he start to get ahead of himself. "I didn't plan on leaving Celtic but I am glad the way things have turned out," he added. "It has been a rapid step-up for me but I always knew I had it in me. Queen's Park last season was great for me but I always thought I could get to this level.

"I maybe should be pinching myself a wee bit with all that's going on but I don't have time because we have a big game against Hearts coming up. I can't just think about the award because my focus is mainly on the match. I will be putting the award away for now as I concentrate on trying to do well against Hearts."

That is laudable and also a little ironic, given that the Tynecastle side will have spent this week speaking about the threat posed by Robertson, as well as Stuart Armstrong, Gary Mackay-Steven and Ryan Gauld. The Tannadice side - whose manager, Jackie McNamara, has been named Manager of the Month for November - could be without Gavin Gunning due to a knee injury, though.

It was the question of whether Gauld was yet fit for purpose in the English game which would come to occupy Danny Wilson yesterday, though. It seemed fitting since the Hearts defender will be responsible for keeping tabs on the little forward this afternoon.

Wilson is considered a cautionary tale for Gauld since the defender was sold to Liverpool not long after breaking through at Rangers, only to cut short a frustrating stay on Merseyside. The initial transfer south was the subject of open debate in Scottish football and Wilson claimed that Gauld should listen only to the opinions of those he trusts most when it comes to speculation about his own future.

"As soon as a young boy gets linked somewhere, 15 ex-pros come out and say they're doing this right or that wrongly," he said. "A lot of them don't really know what the full situation is. They might not be giving him the best advice. These boys have chosen to stay and they're playing well. The United lads seem to be in a good place just now."

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