Norwich City transfer rumours: Hearts left-back on the radar after first-team emergence
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Norwich City are reportedly among a host of Premier League clubs interested in left-back Aaron Hickey, after the 17-year-old’s Scottish Premiership emergence for Hearts.
The Scottish Sun claim Norwich, Liverpool, Arsenal, Newcastle and Southampton all had representatives at the Edinburgh club's 1-1 home draw with Rangers on Sunday.
Hickey has started seven of Hearts' eight league games so far this season, scoring a late derby day winner at Hibernian last month, and has also been a key part of reaching the Sottish League Cup semi-finals.
That's all before the Scotland Under-17 international turns 18 in January, having made three senior appearances at the end of last season - including all of a 2-1 loss to Celtic in the Scottish FA Cup final.
Rangers and Manchester City have also previously been reported as clubs who are tracking Hickey, who is under contract until 2021, with negotiations for a new deal already under way.
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Hickey was on the books at Hearts as a youngster but joined Celtic's academy, with the Scottish champions inserting a 30 percent sell-on clause in the deal which allowed the full-back to return to Tynecastle.
Former Scotland winger John Robertson, who won two European Cups with Nottingham Forest, was asked about Hickey during BT Sport's coverage of Sunday's game.
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"He's still a young lad and we shouldn't get too excited, but he's a real talent," said the Scot.
"He's two footed and can play quite comfortably at right-back.. He's a humble and hard working lad with a massive, massive future."
VERDICT: Nothing to get too excited about at this stage, with contract negotiations clearly ongoing and a host of high level competition, but left-back could well be a position City's scouts have been tasked with as one of their priorities.
Jamal Lewis has been looking assured in the Premier League for the Canaries so far this season, which has come as little surprise to supporters, particularly as the 21-year-old has 11 caps for Northern Ireland already.
Clubs previously linked with interest in Lewis include Bournemouth, Burnley, Watford, West Ham and Celtic, so the Canaries would need to be ready if big bids arrived in future.
However, beyond Lewis there is only really Philip Heise as a recognised left-back option, with the 28-year-old's main experience being in the second tier in Germany - making just one League Cup appearance since arriving in January.
Max Aarons and Sam Byram are both able to switch sides, while Ben Godfrey and Marco Stiepermann have also been used as emergency cover in the past - with James Husband out on loan in League One with Blackpool and his contract set to expire at the end of the season.
In the academy ranks it's been Belgium Under-17 international Rob Nizet, a summer signing, who has been the regular left-back at under-23 level this season.
Former Blackpool trainee Caleb Richards has also spent the year in the USA, playing regularly in the second tier for Tampa Bay Rowdies. The 21-year-old is under contract until 2021 at Norwich, with the option for a further year.