Hearts left-back Demi Mitchell insists the eventual winners of the Scotland-England tug-of-war over Manchester United team-mate Scott McTominay will land a ‘top player’.
Mitchell came through the Old Trafford youth ranks with the midfielder since they were both aged eight, and is thrilled to see the youngster establishing himself as a recognised first team regular.
Amid the praise that has been lavished on the Lancaster-born player from the likes of manager Jose Mourinho and United legend Paul Scholes, the battle among international suitors has also cranked up.
New Scotland manager Alex McLeish is keen for McTominay, who has a Scottish father, to pledge his future north of the border, while England have no intention of rolling over.
On loan Mitchell refused to divulge his friend’s thinking yesterday but foresees a successful club and international career for McTominay.
Mitchell, who is set to make his ninth appearance for Hearts in tonight’s Premiership visit of Kilmarnock after making the switch from United last month, said: “I spoke to him about it the other day about Scotland and England but I won’t tell you what we said.
“Whatever country he plays for then they are going to be happy, because he is a top player.
“He is a player that managers can trust and he someone who works so hard for the team.
“He is a good player but when he was younger he was a lot smaller, in fact he was about my height.
“He has really grown up and he is playing some excellent football right now.
“We have played together since I was eight and we have grown up together. We also went away on a pre-season tour together and we were the new boys so that brought us closer together.”
The pair both made their full United debuts in last May’s 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace and Mitchell admits McTominay’s rise to prominence has given him hope he can make the grade when he returns to the Theatre of Dreams in the summer.
“The manager gave myself my debut and he has given Scott his as well, so he is giving youth a chance,” commented Mitchell.
“It is encouraging to see because I still have my sights set on playing one day for Manchester United.
“I am just worried at the moment about achieving as much as possible and doing well with Hearts.
“We are still in the Scottish Cup and we need to finish in the top six, so there is lots to play for.
“Kilmarnock are only a few points behind us with games in hand so it is important we get a result.
“We have the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup against Motherwell on Sunday as well and we want to go far in that.”