FORMER Kelty Hearts boss Thomas Courts has been appointed as the new head coach of Premiership club Dundee United.

The 39-year-old, who led the New Central Park club to two East Region Super League titles as a junior club, and to the East of Scotland League title and promotion to the Lowland League, has replaced Micky Mellon, who departed Tannadice at the end of the season.

And Courts' first competitive game in charge of the Terrors is set to be against his old club, under new management themselves in the shape of Kevin Thomson, in a televised Premier Sports Cup tie on July 9.

Courts, who left his role as Kelty manager in October 2018, joined United as their head of tactical performance in their academy in January 2019, and temporarily took charge of the first team in December, for a 2-0 defeat to Livingston, when Mellon and his coaching staff were forced to self-isolate due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to United's website, Courts said: "I feel really excited and privileged to be taking charge at Dundee United.

"When I got the offer to speak to the Club I was optimistic because I felt I was ready for the challenge.

"At each part of the process, I felt that I gave a good account of myself and articulated my vision for the Club moving forward and, thankfully, I'm now sitting as the new Head Coach of Dundee United Football Club in the Scottish Premiership.

"I've got 300 games under my belt as a manager. The fans are getting an experienced manager, one who has a proven capability of winning, developing players and also being open and receptive to giving opportunities to young players as well.

"This is where I want to be, the calibre of player I want to work with on a day-to-day basis and this is the stature of club I feel I can propel myself into and drive the Club to the next level.

"There has been a little bit of energy online surrounding the appointment but I want to harness that energy. I've seen the fans at this ground suck the ball into the net and turn Tannadice into a cauldron in the Dundee derby. Any energy that has been online is something I want to harness and redirect on to the pitch when the fans come back into the stadium.

"I think the fans should be excited. We've got the foundations laid here and it's a really exciting time to be connected with this Club and certainly an exciting time to be leading the club."

Courts, who will be assisted by former Cowdenbeath boss Liam Fox, who left a similar role at Livingston, had two spells with Kelty as a player, and also turned out for Livi, East Fife and Hill of Beath Hawthorn.

In October 2013, aged just 32, he was appointed as Kelty player/manager following the dismissal of Willie Newbigging, ensuring they retained their Super League safety with a play-off win over Dalkeith Thistle.

Courts then led Kelty to their first Super League title in the 2014/15 season, his first full campaign in charge, and won the league again in 2016-17 before the club joined the East of Scotland Football League.

They went on to win the title and, following a two-legged play-off success over South of Scotland League Threave Rovers, they were promoted to the Lowland League.

However, in October of the club's first season in the fifth tier, he resigned from his post, with Barry Ferguson subsequently taking over.

Tony Ashgar, United's sporting director, said: "We have been extremely impressed by Tam since he joined the Club 18 months ago and I believe he is an excellent appointment with a tremendous skill-set that can only enhance what we have already in place.

"He has demonstrated an incredible work ethic, a real passion for the Club and the players and a confidence in his own abilities to step up and take charge of the first team.

"Tam being in charge - his skillset as a good coach, a strong motivator and someone who is obsessive about development and fine detail - merges with the culture of what we are trying to achieve.

"The senior players within the Club, as well as our younger players, will benefit from working under Tam and this will be an integral part of achieving success in our objectives."