Saints still tracking Hickey despite Wilson defection

Southampton are tracking the progress of Hearts teenager Aaron Hickey closely but face competition for his signature from Manchester City.

Saints are still tracking Heart of Midlothian kid Aaron Hickey despite Ross Wilson's departure for Rangers, but English interest in the teenager is growing.

The Hearts teenager was heavily linked to Southampton a month ago although that was before Saints parted company with former director of football operations Ross Wilson.

Wilson was reported to have compiled a number of reports on the 17-year-old left-back, who made his senior debut for the Edinburgh club at the end of last season and has been one of a few bright sparks for the Jambos in what has been a difficult campaign for the club to date.

Wilson’s move to Rangers was assumed to have put the Glasgow club near the front of the queue for Hickey’s services but what it did for Saints’ interest remained unclear – until Saturday.

That was when Southampton were again represented in the crowd for the Scottish Premiership clash between Hearts and Rangers, albeit as one of seven would-be Premier League suitors for Hickey, according to the Scottish Sun.

Whereas last month Saints appeared to have competition from the likes of Queens Park Rangers and Manchester City for the talented Scotland Under-17 international, Liverpool and Arsenal are now understood to be on his trail.

Interestingly, both clubs already have Scottish left-backs on their books, with the Gunners paying £25million to grab Kieran Tierney from Celtic in the summer in the hope he can emulate some of the success ex-Hull City star Andy Robertson has enjoyed with Liverpool.

Saints, therefore, are still doing their homework on Hickey, who is said to be as down-to-earth as they come.

So much so that he doesn’t have an agent, with his father looking after his off-field affairs, which has apparently hampered Hearts as they try to tie him down to a long-term contract at Tynecastle.

Speaking last month, Jambos boss Craig Levein admitted his frustration although he also remains optimistic of a breakthrough.

“He doesn’t have an agent – I’ve been dealing with his dad and it has been a little bit drawn out,” he said. “But I’m confident we’ll get there in the end.”