Aaron Hickey is being tracked by a host of top European clubs including Lazio, Man City and AC Milan - but teammate Anthony McDonald reckons the 18-year-old is too DAFT to notice.

Hickey enjoyed a terrific season last term for Hearts, making 30 appearances as a youngster. He even managed a winner in an Edinburgh derby and some top performances against Rangers.

McDonald broke into the Jambos first-team squad roughly around the same time as Hickey but was allowed to leave on loan last year with plenty of experienced pros playing the same position. Meaning game time would've been harder to come by.

But that hasn't stopped him keeping tabs on Hickey and the clubs he is interesting around the world, even if the left-back himself isn't aware. Young McDonald also recalled the moment he knew his fellow Jambos kid was going places. "The moment I realised there was something special about Aaron came when we played Stenhousemuir in a game," he told H&T Sport. 

"I had always thought he was a player but there was one point he got the ball and faked to play it up the line, chopped inside and switched the play with his other, weak foot. It was a perfect ball into the right-winger. I went, 'Jesus Christ, how has he done that?' I couldn't do that with my left foot, never mind my right foot. It was impressive.

"That's when I seen him as special. He works every day, his attitude is spot on and he's always trying to improve himself. He's too daft to think about the hype around him, which is probably the best thing for him. Any player thinking about a Man City, Munich or Juventus, your mind goes crazy. I think he's too daft to understand what's going on around him!

"When the stories first came out he was getting a bit of stick, every time he would do something someone would shout, 'There's the Man City left-back!' He'd get a bit of stick but I think he can go on and have a big future in the game and make the club a couple of quid, as well."

Hickey is just the latest in a long line of youngsters moulded by Hearts including McDonald, Harry Cochrane, Lewis Moore and Andy Irving. And McDonald credits former manager Craig Levein for their fast-track into the top squad. "On those few players coming through, the credit has to go to Craig Levein for actually trusting us and putting us in at that time," he added. 

"He's trusted other young boys so for 16-year-olds, playing with the first-team is a privilege but it's only going to make you better. To have so many youngsters training with the first-team on a daily basis, it helps you handle game situations better.

"It's a bit easier to deal with if you're working with and talking to experienced guys every day about what they need and want from you. It was a bit of luck with the young players kicking about at the same time, but every club in Scotland will have a decent youth system, it's about a manager who will put you in and trust you."