BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Hearts star Jordan McGhee insists he can draw inspiration from £30 million man Nicolas Otamendi in his bid to prove boss Robbie Neilson wrong.
Neilson recently lauded the Scotland under-21 defender, insisting he was more technically gifted than former Jambos favourite Christophe Berra, who boasts 31 international caps.
However, there was a caveat to the praise, with the Tynecastle gaffer suggesting McGhee needs to “grow a couple of inches” if he want to carve out a career in the top tier of English football.
While he sees Neilson’s reasoning, the 19-year-old believes that 6ft Manchester City stopper Otamendi is a shining example of how other attributes can overcome a lack of height.
He said: “Robbie [Neilson] has seen Everton come here in pre-season, with the size of guys like Phil Jagielka and John Stones, and they are big guys.
“However, at same time, you can look at someone like Nicolas Otamendi, who Manchester City signed for £30 million and is the same height as me. Sergio Ramos is not much taller.
“There are still some really good centre-backs out there [that are not 6ft3in]. You just need to work on different ways to affect the game and deal with strikers. Once you have that in your locker, you can cope with most things.
“It’s all about timing, knowing when to drop off. I’m not going to be taller than every striker, but you need to be able to out-manoeuvre them.”
Ipswich Town saw two bids for McGhee turned down during the summer, with the Championship side failing to meet Hearts’ valuation.
However, the versatile defender insists he is in no rush to seek new pastures – and has emphasised the need to make the right move.
McGhee continued: “I played my 50th game the other day, so it will stand me in good stead playing regularly in Scotland.
“When the time is right for me and the club, obviously I will move on, but I’m only 19 and I’ve got plenty to learn. I’ll keep working hard and trying to improve.
“I’ve spoken to Danny Wilson quite a bit and he has told me to stay as long as I can and play as many games as I can – so I go straight into the first-team down there. It’s about making the right move at the right time.”