Former Rangers star Marco Negri reckons Nathan Patterson could soon be the next young Scottish full-back in the news.
Aaron Hickey captured the headlines in Negri’s native Italy, and beyond, when becoming the first Scot since Graeme Souness to score in Serie A.
Calvin Ramsay also became the talk of the steamie when it was revealed Manchester United are tracking his progress at Aberdeen.
That has not surprised Negri, who played at Ibrox from 1997 to 2001.
Now splitting his time between punditry and coaching, he has been struck by Scotland’s remarkable ability to produce full-backs.
“It is amazing,” said the 50-year-old.
“Andy Robertson is a phenomenon, and you have Kieran Tierney, who is exceptional, too.
“But, for me, the future belongs to the ones who are younger still.
“They already love Hickey at Bologna, where he has shown great character to come back early from injury and to play without fear.
“If he continues as he is doing in Italy, then I believe he will get his place in the Scotland national team because he is playing against some of the best wingers in the world, week in, week out.
“There will come a time when Robertson is not able to play, and Hickey will be ready to replace him.
“I don’t know when it will happen, but it could be soon.
“Europe is recognising that Scotland are producing young players who are not only physically strong, but now also have good technique and are tactically very sharp.
“I would imagine Italian clubs would look at what Hickey is doing, and be able to imagine Nathan Patterson making a similar impact here.
“I know that some big English clubs are already tracking him.
“He appears to be a terrific kid. He is blessed with great pace but, for me, he can cover every aspect of the game.
“He is a real talent, one who I am sure has a big career ahead of him.”
With Stephen O’Donnell still on the scene, and the likes of Patterson and Ramsay emerging, Scotland’s issues of recent years at right-back should be over.
Steve Clarke has tried Andy Robertson there as one – less than successful – attempt to get the Liverpool left-back and Tierney in the same team.
Should a problem arise on either side of the pitch, though, Negri believes Hickey could again be the answer.
“As Scotland know, it is not easy at all to defend well on the right and left,” he said.
“It is already difficult to learn one role well, and to learn how to play two positions properly is very complicated indeed.
“Hickey is one who can do it. His natural role is on the left, but he can play on both flanks and this gives him added value to his managers.
“Every coach likes to have players like that in the group because it is like having two for the price of one.
“And now Hickey has proved he can also score goals.
“They are very important because they get you much love, plus a few more headlines in the newspapers.
“It is why I was a forward myself back when I played!”
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