Paul Hartley believes Lewis Ferguson is as big a talent as anyone in the Premiership, and can go on to be as successful as his uncle, Barry Ferguson.
A former captain of Aberdeen as well as a league winner with Celtic, the Cove Rangers boss took in last week’s 3-3 draw as an analyst for BT Sport.
What he saw of Ferguson – who scored twice from the penalty spot to help earn his side a share of the points – convinced him the 21-year-old has the character to one-day lead the Dons.
“Lewis is captain material. He has come from a good background with his dad and uncle,” he said.
“He knows what football is about, and although he’s a quiet lad, on the pitch you know when he’s there.
“The name doesn’t seem to be a burden for him, and he could end up just as good as Derek and Barry.
“He has so many games under his belt at a young age, and I’m sure he takes a lot of advice from them.
“They’ll tell him the pitfalls, but he looks like he wants it. He is working under a good manager and he will do well.”
Given Uncle Barry won 45 caps for Scotland, captained the country on 28 occasions, and earned Rangers a £7.5-million fee when they sold him to Blackburn Rovers in 2003, that is quite a statement.
Derek, Lewis’s father, enjoyed a successful career too playing for, among others, Rangers, Hearts, and Scotland.
It is one Hartley not only stands by but doubles down on, likening him to Celtic skipper Scott Brown.
“Lewis has all the tools to go and be a top player,” he said.
“It was a great piece of business from Aberdeen to get him for a few hundred grand from Hamilton, although I know Accies were disappointed with the valuation.
“He has been a regular from the word go, and is getting better and better all the time.
“He is getting different types of goals, and he is also good under pressure, as we saw when he stuck away the penalty in the last minute last Sunday.
“I wouldn’t rule out him getting in the Scotland set-up in the next few years.
“He is good enough, and he does remind me of Scott Brown a little bit.
“He can mix it up. He’s not scared, and he is a tough cookie. He relishes the battle whoever he comes up against. Nothing fazes him.”
Possibly but, given his background, a Celtic approach might give Ferguson plenty to think about.
With Brown now 35, it is a possibility that Hartley believes cannot be ruled out.
“I don’t think Derek McInnes would be too happy about that but, look, Lewis is a player who will obviously have a lot of admirers,” he said.
“He’s maturing, he’s getting better. And one day, someone will need to replace Scott Brown.
“I am not saying Celtic should come and sign Lewis Ferguson, but what I am saying is at the moment he is as good as anyone in the top flight.”
For right now, Hartley believes the Hoops have to avoid any temptation to sideline their skipper.
“Scott would be in my team. He’s the captain and he’s the leader,” he said. “He’s been there, seen it and done it.
“But sometimes when you get to a certain age, you can’t be in the team all the time.
“Scott played against Rangers and Milan. To go in against Aberdeen again would not have been easy
“I always found it tough on a Sunday after European games, so sometimes you just need to be taken out for a rest.
“How does it feel when you get to that age? Murder!
“You’re experienced enough to know sometimes the manager has to make a decision.”
Paul Hartley was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.
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