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FORMER Rangers and Scotland right back Alan Hutton has expressed confidence Nathan Patterson can establish himself as first choice right back at Everton ahead of Seamus Coleman this season despite not making an appearance for the Goodison Park club since his £12m transfer three weeks ago.
Patterson was left out of the Merseyside outfit’s match day squad for the Premier League game against Aston Villa – their first outing since Rafael Benitez, the manager who signed him, was sacked – last weekend.
Coleman, the Republic of Ireland internationalist, and Jonjoe Kenny, the ex-Celtic loanee, were preferred to him in the encounters with Hull City and Norwich City before that.
The lack of competitive action the defender has had down south is a concern for Scotland supporters as the national team take on Ukraine in the Qatar 2022 play-off semi-final at Hampden on March 24.
However, the 20-year-old played for the Everton Under-23 team against Spurs at the Pure Stadium in Southport on Monday night and set up his team mate Lewis Dobbin for the only goal just before half-time.
And Hutton, who moved from Rangers to Spurs for a then record £9m fee back in 2008 and played in the English top flight for the London giants as well as Sunderland and Aston Villa, expects his countryman to feature regularly when football resumes after the winter break.
“I think he has all the attributes to be a very good modern-day full-back,” he said. “He has energy up and down the pitch, a decent final ball and he's a good one on one defender.
“We need to remember that he's only 20 years of age, so he's going to get better and he's going to improve and by doing that he's going to have to play games.
“For whatever reason, Rangers decided he wasn't going to push James Tavernier out and that's their choice. But to make the move into the Premier League where you're going to test yourself against a higher calibre player, I think that's where you become better.”
Hutton added: “Of course, there's a big job on his hands to push Seamus Coleman out, who's Everton's captain, but I think he can do it.
“He's been tested at European level, he has caps for Scotland now, so he wants to keep that place and to do that he needs to be playing football. Hopefully he can do that at Everton.”
“I think he is ready. I think sometimes people forget the pressure you're under at Rangers to perform week in and week out.
“To be able to do that at 20 years old in European competitions with 50,000 people screaming at you, he's handled it really well. He's got an old head on young shoulders, so I'm sure he'll do himself justice.
“He's only young, so he is going to improve and playing at a club like Everton will help him move forward in that transition. I think he will do well at Everton, it's just about him playing now.”
Hutton had no difficulty making the step up from to playing in England – he helped Spurs to beat their city rivals Chelsea in the League Cup final in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley in just his third game.
He anticipates that Patterson will flourish as well in the coming months and will have no difficulty justifying the £12m – the record transfer fee that Rangers have received – that Everton paid for him.
“I think it shows the progression in Scottish young talent,” he told Free Super Tips. “Years ago, that never happened, but we're seeing it more and more now and I think it's a fair figure.
“Obviously, there's a lot of potential there and he needs to fulfil that, but I don't think it'll weight him down. It didn't for me personally when I left because you're that young that you don't think about it.
“You're just desperate to play football, so I didn't think about the off-field stuff, I just got on with the job in hand. He seems to be a very level-headed young man, so I think he'll be able to put it all to one side and concentrate on what he needs to do.”
Alan Hutton was speaking to Free Super Tips – www.freesupertips.com