Scotland manager Steve Clarke sees Ben Doak as a “big part of our future,” with the former Liverpool first-team coach viewing him in a different role.
It was a breakthrough campaign for Doak, who swapped Celtic for Liverpool and rose from under-18s to first team in a matter of months.
The 17-year-old ended the season with 12 goals and four assists in 28 games at academy level, as well as making five senior appearances for the Reds and debuting for Scotland under-21s.
Doak is part of the Scotland U21s squad again for two friendlies against Norway later this month, but he is already on Clarke’s radar, too.
While the ex-Liverpool coach is not considering the teenager for an immediate call-up, he told football.scotland that he saw him as a “big part” of the country’s future – and suggested a change of position.
“He’s an attacker and probably a really difficult player to play against. Because he just runs. He’s so quick and he can go either way,” Clarke said.
“You could probably play him as a striker. Just ask him to run in behind teams and stretch them.
“Again, at 17 he’s just a youngster. But he’s been in and around the Liverpool first team, without making the breakthrough.
“That’s not a criticism because it’s difficult to do at a club like that. Hopefully going forward [Doak and Aston Villa‘s Rory Wilson] can be a big part of our future.”
Clarke remains cautious over Doak’s progress, though, which is understandable given he only turned 17 in November and has just a handful of senior outings to his name.
“Let’s not put too much pressure on them,” he continued.
“But if someone is playing regularly somewhere and scoring goals, they can be in Scotland’s first-team squad.
“I don’t think Ben is quite at that level yet but he’s working towards it.
“If he shows he’s good enough to be involved, he can be, for sure.”
Doak is expected to remain on the fringes of Liverpool’s first team next season, and could be given increased exposure with the club’s run in the Europa League.
Challenging Mohamed Salah for a spot on the right flank is near impossible, but there should be enough opportunities for the youngster to take the next step.