Craig Levein feels Northern Ireland call-up vindicates Hearts’ Bobby Burns loan move

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Hearts manager Craig Levein believes midfielder Bobby Burns received his first Northern Ireland call-up because he joined Livingston on loan.

Levein admitted the teenager would have been used sparingly at Tynecastle, with the move to West Lothian already vindicated. Burns was called into Michael O’Neill’s international squad last week after a resounding display for Livingston against Celtic. He wasn’t used in Northern Ireland’s friendly with Republic of Ireland or the Nations League tie against Austria but, at 19, gained valuable experience.

Hearts' Bobby Burns is currently on loan at Livingston. Pic: SNS

Hearts' Bobby Burns is currently on loan at Livingston. Pic: SNS

Hearts loaned Burns to Livingston in August after signing him from Glenavon. He is expected to spend the rest of the campaign there, although the Edinburgh club have a recall option in January.

Levein said Burns’ international call-up fully justifies the decision to send him to Livingston, with Gary Holt’s side performing well in the Premiership after gaining promotion.

“Bobby has been doing well when he’s had the opportunity at Livingston lately. That’s been good for him. He is getting tested at a good level,” Levein told the Evening News.

“If he had stayed with us, he would just have been on the bench or in the stand. It just makes sense that he’s continuing his progress by playing first-team football. It vindicates his loan move seeing him get called up by Northern Ireland. I’m pleased for him, he’s a good kid.”