Now before we go any further, we want to be clear we’re not about laying into people for the sake of it at UTAS (unless it’s Barry Fry or dodgy Darragh). Andy Dallas is a young man, miles from home in a hugely competitive profession. He’s got enough about him to have made it through Rangers’ academy and earned a professional contract at the Abbey. Many youngsters don’t make it this far, and the fallout from that can be devastating. Let’s remember that.
So, what do we do about Andy Dallas then? It’s clear he’s not going to get many minutes this season, and he’s gone from being second/third choice striker last season to a distant fourth this year. Barring a serious injury to Mullin, Ironside and Knibbs he’s not going to dislodge any of those three from their position ahead of him in the picking order.
Signed at the beginning of last season by Colin Calderwood, immediately after scoring against us for Rangers in a friendly Dallas has endured a difficult start to life in English football. He made 28 appearances for the U’s last season, scoring twice, against Exeter and Colchester. As strikers go, that’s not a great record, whichever way you look at it. Having played just four times this season we haven’t seen a huge amount of him, and what we have seen hasn’t filled us with confidence, despite a fairly decent showing against P*sh in the EFL Trophy. We know he’s only young and may yet improve, but with his contract expiring at the end of the season it’s beginning to look clear his future lies away from the Abbey.
That brings us back to our question then. Do we loan him out to get some minutes into him and hopefully let him find his goalscoring boots at a lower level? With the season below the Conference pretty much on hiatus right now that doesn’t leave him with many options, and only having three recognised strikers could leave us light if injuries start taking their toll. Do we cut our losses, release him in January and get someone in on loan or put the money towards another striker? Do we just persevere and hope he finds some form? Plenty of strikers have left the Abbey and gone on to better things, likewise plenty have turned up here with poor reputations elsewhere and started scoring. I suspect Bonner may have made up his mind already and that Andy will be leaving us in May.
Let’s not be too harsh on him- we’ve had much, much worse strikers here at United (Jonas Axeldal anyone?) and he seems a popular character in the dressing room. Maybe a move back to Scotland or a drop into the conference could give his the career the kick-start it needs if he can start finding the net on a regular basis. Of course we’d love him to force his way into the starting eleven here and start banging them in week in week out, but realistically it’s not going to happen for him. Whatever he does, we wish him well.