SINISA MIHAJLOVIC has tipped Aaron Hickey for the top after the Scottish teenager enjoyed a sensational Serie A debut for Bologna.
The Rossoblù boss hailed the ‘personality’ and ‘quality’ of the former Hearts full-back, who played 80 minutes of Monday evening’s 4-1 triumph over Parma at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara.
Hickey, 18, became just the fifth Scotsman to play in the Italian top flight, following in the footsteps of Denis Law, Joe Jordan, Graeme Souness and Liam Henderson – and his maiden outing prompted widespread praise.
While Mihajlovic accepts that there will be peaks and troughs to Hickey’s progress following a £1.5 move from Tynecastle, especially given the language barrier, he was heartened by the youngster’s impact.
“Hickey has both personality and quality, he has a great future ahead of him,” lauded the ex-Milan, Inter and Lazio defender. “He’s lively and is learning already.
“Hickey does not speak Italian, but he had personality and I risked putting him in – and I’m happy with him.
“That’s what I expect of all young boys. They need to grow and improve. They may have ups and downs but we have to grow them.
“Together with the young people, there are experienced players here who need to help them grow.”
The Bologna edition of Corriere dello Sport afforded Hickey a 6.5 score in their notoriously harsh man-by-man ratings, with only two players – Roberto Soriano and Jerdy Schouten – receiving higher marks.
Match reporter Giorgio Burreddu wrote: “Hickey has character, energy and the courage to sparkle. Very good.”