Perry Kitchen’s instant impact at Hearts drew praise today from head coach Robbie Neilson, who hopes to see the midfielder in the USA’s Copa America squad.
Kitchen’s consistency already looks a key part of his game and Neilson believes he can force America’s coach Jurgen Klinsmann to take note.
The 24-year-old has started the last four games since making his Hearts debut as a substitute at Dundee last month. He is expected to retain his place this weekend when the Tynecastle club visit Motherwell for the first of five post-split Premiership fixtures.
Neilson admitted being slightly surprised at how quickly Kitchen has adjusted to Scottish football. He performed solidly against Aberdeen and Celtic and Hearts are keen for Klinsmann to reinstate him at international level.
He already has three full caps and was part of the American squad for friendlies against Iceland and Canada earlier this year. He was left out of last month’s World Cup qualifying double header against Guatemala but retains hope of being involved in June’s Copa America. The USA face Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay in their group and Klinsmann has some tough decisions to make on his selection.
“I hope Perry can get back into the American squad,” said Neilson.
“It would be great for him, for Hearts and for Scottish football if we can get a player in our league playing internationally for America. If we can do well in Europe, it will definitely lift his stock and put him on the radar. Playing well in big games, such as Aberdeen and Celtic, bodes well for his selection chances.
“When we got Perry, I didn’t expect him to come in and do as well right away.
“I think his style of play suits us and suits the league and the last couple of games have proved why he’s an American international. We’re very lucky to get him.”