ALAN Hansen famously proclaimed just over 25 years ago that “you can’t win anything with kids” after watching a youthful Manchester United lose 3-1 to Aston Villa on the opening day of the 1995-96 season – and he ended up with a big dollop of egg on his chin just nine months later when David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, the Neville brothers and co were crowned English Premier League champions.

Well, Glasgow Warriors aren’t going to win anything of any import this season anyway, so there isn’t even that disproven excuse for Danny Wilson to resist making some bold selection decisions, which will not only lay the groundwork for greater strength in depth in the future but perhaps also spark the current misfiring campaign into life.

We shouldn’t be too harsh on Wilson. He has been dealt a rotten hand, inheriting a team past its zenith and in serious need of new energy just as the financial hit of Covid imposed an effective recruitment freeze. He is able to bring players in, but only if he manages to free-up the cash to do so elsewhere in a significantly reduced budget.

Wilson had a disjointed and truncated pre-season with his new team then lost around a dozen of his most important players for the best part of eight weeks to international duty. And just as he thought he might be able to build a bit of momentum when his big dogs returned in early December, the squad was plunged into a Covid-induced lockdown.

On top of all that, Warriors have suffered more than their fair share of injury setbacks so far in this campaign. Wilson was appointed to coach the team but has been preoccupied so far with fighting fires. The last thing he will want to be thinking about at the moment is rolling the dice on untested youngsters, but the trajectory of Warriors’ season means there is really no excuse for not doing so.

Last Saturday he was down to his third-choice stand-off in Brandon Thomson. The 25-year-old was recruited from Western Province in 2017. He is a former South African Under-20s cap but has struggled to make any real impact in the three-and-a-half years since landing in Scotland, and in many eyes his performance at the weekend will have confirmed once and for all that he is not destined to ever be a central figure at Scotstoun.

Thomson – who is out of contract at the end of the season – missed a sitter of a penalty from right in front of the posts during the first half, which would have given his side an important lead in a match which was always going to be decided by the narrowest of margins.

It was interesting that Ali Price took a quick tap-penalty from close to Edinburgh’s posts when it was still 0-0 at the start of the second half, instead of asking Thomson to go for the three-points. The ball was immediately turned over and another chance to take the lead was lost. Had Price lost faith in his kicker?

A miserable afternoon for Thomson hit its nadir with 10 minutes to go, when he fired a wild pass over Sam Johnson’s shoulder which gifted Magnus Bradbury the game’s decisive try. This comes on the back of him missing an even easier kick at goal last month which deprived the Warriors of what would have been a valuable last-gasp home win over the Dragons.

It is time to see if academy prospect Ross Thompson can really cut it at this level. The 21-year-old got nine minutes off the bench at stand-off on Saturday, and this coincided with Warriors finally finding some fluidity and width in their attacking game, culminating in Lewis Bean’s late consolation try. With the game finally breaking up, the debutant perhaps had better ball to play with, but he also had the composure to drop slightly deeper than Thomson to create the space needed to get outside Edinburgh’s push defence. He managed to recycle when slammed by a massive tackle from Ben Toolis and popped over the easy conversion of Bean’s try for good measure.

Wilson has said that he does not want to ask young players to do too much too soon, but Thompson is not a child. He was Scotland Under-20s stand-off for two seasons, this is his third year as a full-time member of the FOSROC Academy, and he played consistently well for Ayrshire Bulls in Super6 before lockdown.

With Adam Hastings off to Gloucester next season and Pete Horne (who is hoping to be back this week after missing the last game with concussion) turning 32 later this year, it looks like Wilson is pinning everything on Duncan Weir’s widely touted return from Worcester in the summer – but, for the time being, there is nothing to lose and everything to gain from testing Thompson further.

Similarly, with Glenn Bryce off to the USA in the next couple of weeks and Huw Jones’ out of contract at the end of the season, let’s see what first-year pro Rufus McLean and/or academy member Ollie Smith can bring to the party at full-back. Teenage scrum-half Jamie Dobie has already demonstrated that if you are good enough then you are old enough, but it is time for Wilson to fully embrace that concept.