Hearts star John Souttar backs brother Harry to thrive at Stoke City – despite own decision to snub Sunderland



JOHN SOUTTAR has no regrets about snubbing Sunderland when the Premier League came calling – but he has told his younger brother to jump at the opportunity of a switch to Stoke City.

Dundee United starlet Harry Souttar is set for a move to the Britannia Stadium after a fee in the region of £200,000 was reportedly agreed between the clubs.

While Harry has only made two appearances for the United first-team, he has long been tipped for the top, with a physicality beyond his years and prodigious ability on the ball for a defender.

johnsouttarThere are parallels with John’s progress, given he was the subject of a Sunderland swoop in 2013 while still at Tannadice. He turned down the approach, insisting he would be better served in the United first team than an English youth side.

However, he believes Harry is in a very different situation and has backed his kid brother to thrive at the Potteries.

Now excelling at Hearts, Souttar said: “I’ve spoken to my brother about it a lot. It will be good for him to go down there. It’s good to get away and he is looking forward to it. As his brother I am delighted for him.

“I turned down a move to Sunderland? Yes. But I think the circumstances were different. I was playing, at 17, most weeks in the SPL. We were near the top of the league.

“The decision was made and in a great place now. I’m 19 and I’ve played 80 games in the top flight up here. That experience is second to none and a lot of people don’t have that.

“I’ve been through situations and bad times and I think it’s made me stronger as a person and a player.

“It’s completely different for my brother, who is in the Championship and is not really involved with the team. I was a bit more settled and playing games. This is the right move for him.

“If he was playing every week it would be different but he isn’t. He’s physically big and I think he will do very well down there.

“He’s my brother and we don’t have a serious relationship. We muck about and joke but any time he needs my advice I am on the other end of the phone for him.”

Souttar was speaking after being named in Ricky Sbragia’s Scotland under-21 squad for the upcoming encounters against Macedonia and Ukraine.

Given the dearth of central defensive options at senior level, Souttar’s form since swapping Dundee United for Hearts in January has placed him among those in contention to make the step up to Gordon Strachan’s senior side.

And he is motivated by seeing Jack Hamilton and Callum Paterson achieve that goal this week.

Souttar added: “Callum and Jack have started the season well and they deserve it.

“It shows you that everyone in this squad is capable of going up. A few have been at that level, had a taste and are now back down.

“It shows you if you play well you will get your chance. With those players getting a chance at international level, we have a chance of getting up there too. There’s a lot of talent in this squad.”