Police have released CCTV images of a suspect linked to a brutal assault on a top footballer in Edinburgh city centre.
Sheffield United striker Marc McNulty, 22, suffered serious facial injuries that left him sidelined for three weeks.
The striker – who scored 37 goals for former club Livingston – fell victim to a random assault outside the Devil’s Cut bar in the West End two months ago landing him in hospital.
When he returned to the pitch last month the former Portobello High School pupil was forced to wear a protective face mask.
It is understood McNulty was standing in Hope Street Lane after leaving a friend’s 21st birthday party when he was targeted by a stranger in the early hours of November 2. A source who attended the party said McNulty was an “innocent bystander” and the attack had been “wholly unprovoked”.
It is understood several players from Hearts and Hibs also attended the bash.
The suspect is described as white with tanned skin, aged between 18 and 25 years old, of a stocky build and with a sleeve tattoo on his left arm.
At the time of the incident, he was wearing a dark “puffa”-style body warmer and dark jeans.
Police said detectives were pursuing “various lines of inquiry” as part of the investigation, and urged any witnesses to come forward. Detective Constable Iain Wallace said: “We are keen to establish the identity and whereabouts of the man pictured on CCTV so that we can speak with him in connection with this investigation.
“Anyone who recognises him, or who has any other information relevant to this inquiry, is asked to contact police immediately.”
McNulty was not available to comment on the probe but reportedly said the incident had made him “think twice” about where he socialised. Speaking on his return to Sheffield United after treatment, he thanked his family, team manager Nigel Clough and agents for their support.
He was unable to train with the Blades for three weeks but marked a glorious return by scoring the winning goal against Plymouth on December 6.
McNulty, who has become Sheffield United’s top goalscorer since joining the club last year, reportedly said he had been left “shaken up” by the incident.
“I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he told a newspaper shortly after the incident. “You read in the papers all the time about people being assaulted and I’m just another one of them. I was unlucky. But it has definitely made me more wary of where I can go and of the people around me.”
McNulty was brought to the English League One side from Livingston for a £125,000 fee last summer. He played with a variety of junior squads in the Edinburgh area until he was signed by Livingston at 16.