Billy Stark believes Hearts now possess the two best teenage defenders in Scotland after John Souttar joined Jordan McGhee at the club.
The 19-year-old duo have been on the former Scotland Under-21 manager’s radar for several years and he is in no doubt that the Jambos have some serious potential on their hands after paying a six-figure sum to bring Souttar from Dundee United on Monday.
“Hearts have got the two best young centre-backs in the country now, no doubt about that,” Stark told the Evening News. “John and Jordan are the cream of the centre-backs up here. They’re a level above their peers. It’s just about seeing how they develop now.”
Souttar burst on to the scene when he was given his United debut by Jackie McNamara as a 16-year-old three years ago. Although his form had dipped recently in a struggling Tannadice side, Stark is adamant that he can get back on track at Hearts.
“I’m glad he’s gone to Hearts rather than down to England,” he said. “Hearts will be looking on him as a project and they’ll feel they can develop him pretty quickly. John’s always been a cultured player, a natural on the ball, but his physique and his mobility are probably the main reasons he made the breakthrough so early. He’s proved his versatility by playing midfield and right-back, but I think he’ll be a centre-half long-term.”