Despite Matthew Knox having played just 16 minutes of first-team football, Livingston boss David Hopkin admits he isn’t surprised by the level of interest in teenage striker.
The Lions have been inundated with enquiries from clubs south of the border after the 16-year-old became Livi’s youngest player to make a first-team appearance as a second-half substitute in the 4-1 win over St Mirren on Boxing Day.
English Championship outfit Nottingham Forest were the latest side to register their interest having made an offer for the player on Monday – a bid which was quickly rejected by the West Lothian club’s board.
Such is the hype surrounding Knox, the teenager even spent last week training with Manchester United and has also been on trial with Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham.
And, while Livi supporters are still to see the best of the former Preston Lodge High pupil, Hopkin believes he has all the attributes to become one of the country’s top players.
“He’s got a real, real chance,” Hopkin said. “I’ve worked in that area for the last three or four years when I was at Morton and saw some great prospects coming through. But he’s definitely something else. He’s got great ability, touch, awareness and he’s a very fit boy for his age. He’s only going to get better.
“There are certain games that if you were doing okay then you could put him on so we maybe haven’t had that. But you’ve got to remember he’s only just out of school. He’s just turned 16 so I think a lot of people are realising that if he goes down to England then he can still play at under-16, so if anybody does take a chance on him they’d have him for five years at under-21 to develop him.”
Hopkin is desperate keep hold of his rising star but says he would wish the player well should he decide to further his career elsewhere.
“It really all depends how serious the bids become I suppose. A lot of clubs are spending a lot of money on youth now, and investing in them that way. Getting them into their academies and developing them from there seems to be the way forward rather than spending huge amounts of money on transfer fees later down the line. They want to produce their own players.
“I don’t want to keep putting him down places for a week here and there. I want to keep him here and make sure he trains with us. But if someone does have a serious interest and he is keen, and the money is right, then we’d let him go.
“He really enjoyed the experience of being with Manchester United last week but he just comes back and gets on with things here. We keep his feet on the ground as he’s still only a kid and has a lot of developing to do.”