Wolves youngster Luke Matheson has been told he can play for England – and surprise his Molineux team-mates by challenging for a first-team place next season.
Bolton manager Keith Hill gave the 17-year-old right wing back his debut at just 15 at Rochdale from where Wolves have snapped him up for an initial £1m last month.
Matheson has returned to the League One club on loan for the rest of the season.
The youngster has made just 19 League appearances and 32 in total. But Hill, 50, is convinced the teenager, who has already played for England Under-18s, will represent the full Three Lions team.
Asked if Matheson will play for England one day, Hill told www.wolvesbite.com: “Yes, definitely. You have no questions as a manager when you work with Luke Matheson about where he’s going to end up. He’s going to end up at the very top.
“He wants to be the very best footballer that Luke Matheson can be and I think he believes he can go all the way.
“I’ve got no question marks alongside Luke Matheson going to the top.”
Hill wouldn’t be surprised to see Matheson scrapping it out with Matt Doherty for the first-team spot next season once he gets a pre-season at Wolves under his belt this summer, because he’s such a good reader of the game.
“He’s gone back to Rochdale on loan for the rest of the season,” said Hill.
“But the first-team coaching staff will be really pleasantly surprised with what they’ve got, and the Wolves players will be surprised at how good he is.
“His football compass is amazing. He knows where to be on the pitch, he’s got a hunger, but he’s humble and he has huge desire and determination.”
Former Wolves sporting director Kevin Thelwell said Matheson would be an ideal fit for Nuno Espirito Santo’s 3-4-3 formation because of his mobility.
“The system we play, it’s set up for him,” said Thelwell. “He plays at right-back for Rochdale at the moment, but he’s a right wing-back in our eyes because of his energy and ability to continually sprint and recover.”
Hill, who made Matheson Rochdale’s youngest player at 15 years 336 days against Bury in 2018, echoes Thelwell’s sentiment.
“I saw the interview about his ability to sprint and he’s got more than that,” added Hill, who spent 11 years managing Rochdale in two spells and led them to two promotions.
“His positional sense and the ability to be on time on the pitch is amazing and he can punch above his weight, size-wise too.
“For me he fits into the way Wolves play seamlessly. I think it’s a great signing from Wolves’ perspective, and it shows they’re not afraid to go into the market and buy good, young British talent.”
Matheson played his first game back on loan at Spotland on Saturday in a 1-1 draw at Doncaster, where on-loan Wolves striker Niall Ennis came off the bench and Molineux team-mate Cameron John was an unused substitute.
Hill believes Matheson’s grounded personality means he won’t have any delusions of grandeur back in familiar surroundings for the rest of the season.
“Luke Matheson’s attitude won’t change because of this move,” insisted Hill.
“He will see it as an unbelievable opportunity and he’s a quick learner too.
“He’s prepared to do more, not less. He comes from great parents from a very humble background, but he wants to make an impression on the game.”