Craig Levein believes new Hearts signing Craig Halkett will become a Scotland internationalist if he continues progressing at Tynecastle Park.
The Livingston captain has agreed a pre-contract to join Hearts this summer and manager Levein believes he has the potential to win full caps.
John Souttar’s development after leaving Dundee United for Edinburgh propelled him into the Scotland team and Levein is confident 23-year-old Halkett can follow a similar path.
“He’s a young, Scottish centre-back. He was a kid at Rangers and had to deal with the disappointment of going away to Livingston. He’s brought himself back to a really high level and his attitude is really first-class,” said Levein. “My experience of players like that is that they keep improving. He’s suffered a disappointment, dealt with it and got himself into the Premiership.
“Could he play for Scotland? Absolutely. He’s quick, aggressive, good on the ball and I feel there is an awful lot more to come from him. I really understand that position because I played there all my days and, while he’s not the same as John, he’s got some very similar qualities and I think he’ll be a brilliant signing.”
Halkett will begin a three-year contract when he reports to Riccarton for pre-season training in June. Levein explained why he decided to move for Livingston’s skipper.
“I watched a couple of their matches early on in the season and was immediately impressed by him. When the opportunity arose to do something with a pre-contract, it was a no-brainer,” he said.
“He’s a young lad who has shown he can deal with the disappointment of leaving Rangers and has rolled his sleeves up, got stuck in and got himself to a position where a number of teams were interested in signing him. I think he’ll keep improving due to his attitude more than anything else. I would argue that he has been as potent a centre-back at scoring from corner-kicks as there is in the league. So not only will he help us in a defensive sense, he has some goals in him next season.
“It wasn’t hard to persuade him. He was very keen on coming here. We are lucky that we have guys like John and Christophe Berra in the team. Aaron Hughes, although he hasn’t played a lot, is still a huge help to some of the younger players.
“This is a good environment for some of the younger players and Craig has said all of the right things. He wasn’t difficult to deal with and he just wants to keep improving, which is music to my ears.”