Aberdeen boss Stephen Glass insists rising full-backs Calvin Ramsay and Jack MacKenzie will be protected from any chance of burn out.
Right-back Ramsay and left-back MacKenzie have continued to impress despite the Dons’ dismal form.
Aberdeen have failed to win in 10 games and the 2-1 reverse at Dundee was a fifth successive loss in the Premiership.
Ramsay and MacKenzie have been few bright lights in a slump where Aberdeen have taken just two points from the last possible 21.
Both made their first team breakthroughs in March this year and have become integral to Glass’ starting XI.
Teenager Ramsay has made such a big impact the 18-year-old is on the radar of Manchester United and Everton.
Norwich City are understood to be the latest English top flight side to scout Ramsay, with West Ham, Leicester City and Southampton all keeping tabs on the Scotland U21 international.
Glass insists he will closely monitor the two young full-backs to ensure there is no chance of them becoming run down.
Glass said: “The challenge for us as a staff long-term is making sure these boys become what they should be and continue to be what they are at the moment.
“Calvin’s been fantastic, Jack’s been brilliant.
“It’s important that we manage them properly.
“The training routine and things like that are designed with that in mind so we continue aiming at the games at the weekend with our best group of players, which, at the moment, those young players are a big, big part of.
“The young players deserve their place in the team, we’re not just throwing them in there.
“Obviously, you’ve also got to recognise that their performance levels could dip and we’ve got a big squad that can handle that.”
Rising stars secured on long-term contracts
Ramsay was forced to withdraw due to injury from the Scotland U21 squad for the 1-0 loss to Denmark in Euro championship qualifying earlier this month.
Glass confirmed the teen was on the treatment table immediately after the 2-1 loss to Celtic prior to the international break.
Ramsay had made his U21 breakthrough when earning a debut cap in the 1-1 draw away to Turkey last month.
Teenager Ramsay and MacKenzie, 21, both started in the 2-1 loss to Dundee, with left-back MacKenzie delivering the assist with a cross for Christian Ramirez’s goal.
MacKenzie and Ramsay have set up Aberdeen’s last four goals, with Ramsay providing two assists in the 3-2 loss to St Mirren and another in the 2-1 defeat by Celtic.
The two full-backs are the latest talents to emerge through the Pittodrie Youth Academy.
Midfielder Dean Campbell and attacker Connor McLennan have both graduated from the youth system.
Scotland international defender Scott McKenna came through the Academy and was a first team regular for the Dons until sealing a £3 million transfer to Championship Nottingham Forest last September.
Capped 22 times for Scotland, the fee secured for McKenna is a club record for Aberdeen.
That will likely be smashed if a club from the English top-flight make a successful move for Ramsay.
Full-backs secured on long-term contracts
Glass recently admitted he would not be surprised if an English Premier League club made a move to sign Ramsay in January.
Rangers rejected an offer of £8m from Everton late in the summer transfer window for teenage right-back Nathan Patterson. Ramsay is likely to make far more club appearances this season for Aberdeen than Patterson will for Rangers.
Ramsay is first choice at Pittodrie, whilst Scotland international Patterson will struggle to get a regular start ahead of Ibrox skipper James Tavernier at right-back.
Aberdeen were very astute in securing Ramsay and MacKenzie on extended long-term deals to either safeguard their longevity at the club or maximise their value if they move on.
Ramsay signed a new contract in January this year, tying him to Aberdeen until summer 2024.
In March, MacKenzie penned an extension until summer 2023.
The importance of emerging talent
Glass was also a product of the Dons youth system and broke through as a teenager in the 1994-95 season and went on to make 143 appearances before transferring to Newcastle United.
He understands the importance of youth development by Aberdeen.
He said: “Young players at the club have a great history.
“I think it’s important that continues.
“(Ross) McCrorie’s 23, too, and (Lewis) Ferguson is still a young player and there’s also Dean Campbell.
“The list goes on.
“The age profile of the group has come down, despite adding people like Broony (Scott Brown, 36).”