SCOTTISH defender Neill Collins reckons Sheffield United teammate Harry Maguire is nine years away from knowing his game inside out.
Maguire headed in his third goal of the season, his first in League One since the opening day of last season, in the Blades entertaining 3-3 draw with Crewe Alexandra in midweek.
A string of top flight clubs watched Maguire as the highly regarded centre-back made his England Under-21 debut in their 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland last week.
Newcastle United are believed to be one of the clubs monitoring the 19-year-old’s situation and could try to prise him away from Bramall Lane when the transfer window re-opens in January.
Although Maguire has recently reaffirmed his commitment to the club, it is no secret United want to keep reducing their costs, meaning they may consider offloading one of their top assets should their valuation of the talented teenager be met.
Collins told The Star Maguire’s international call-up was “long over-due” but he believes there is still more to come from the Sheffield-born youngster.
“Harry has been playing exceptionally well,” he said. “He is very consistent.
“Harry will not have a problem keeping a level head. He will go on to do great things in the game.
“He is at the right place in his career right now. Long may that continue.
“I enjoy playing with him. No one is more pleased for him than me (over his cap). It was long over-due. Now he will want to get a promotion on his CV so hopefully we can achieve that.
“He was great when he first came in and he has just gone from strength to strength. He is still learning.
“The number of games he has played is just fantastic.
“He is still only 19 so he has still got lots to improve. Centre-backs don’t peak until they are 28 so goodness knows how good he is going to be.”
A graduate of United’s famed youth system, Maguire has featured prominently at senior level since breaking into the first-team set-up in April 2011. His rise through the ranks has been meteoric and Collins is urging the club’s next generation to follow Maguire’s lead.
“If I was a young boy at the club, I would be looking at everything Harry does and the way he handles himself,” said Collins. “There is no better role model than Harry.”
Of their thrilling home draw with Crewe, Collins said: “There were two or three fortuitous goals, but we got a point and now we move on to another tough away game at Brentford.
“Sometimes in football you get strange nights like that. It was certainly an entertaining game for any neutral.
“I am often the first to accept the blame or criticise after conceding goals, but Crewe’s first two certainly had an element of luck, as did our opener.
“I thought Crewe were a good, young, energetic side. I was impressed with them. They are one of the best sides we have played.”