Dundee United midfielder Dillon Powers believes the “sky is the limit” for Lawrence Shankland because he plays a clever game.
Shankland produced a sublime opening goal for the Tangerines at Easter Road on Tuesday night, only to finish on the losing side as Hibs won the William Hill Scottish Cup fourth round replay 4-2.
It was his 27th goal of the season for his club and sixth in the last four matches.
United manager Robbie Neilson now faces an anxious finale to the January transfer window to see if the Tannadice men can fight off any bids that come in for Shankland.
Powers has only known the striker for a few weeks but is already well aware what the fuss is about.
The American said: “It has been a pleasure for me to be playing with him because his IQ for the game is really good.
“He is an easy player to link up with because he is always thinking and his hold-up play is incredible.
“He can also smash the ball and is a really good finisher.
“Each game, we have started to understand each other more and more and I think the sky is the limit for him.”
Powers declined to be drawn into the “will he stay or will he go” debate surrounding Shankland but praised his teammate for coping with the transfer furore.
He said: “That’s how he is. He just keeps at it.
“People might look past his workrate but that is his starting point – the work ethic – then from there the quality comes through.
“So all credit to him for staying focused, especially with all the attention around him from defenders.
“The opposition defenders are putting in extra special shifts so he is getting nudges in the back and things like that. He is dealing well with it all.”
Powers won’t be the only one connected with United sitting with his fingers crossed that the transfer window closes with Shankland still in tangerine and he revealed the deadline day drama is all new to him.
He said: “This will be my first time being around for it.
“I don’t know too much about it other than that I can watch things here and there on the TV.
“Thus far, I have just been concerned with getting myself settled here in Scotland.
“I have not had too much time or energy to look much beyond that.
“I would say it’s kind of similar to the draft back home.
“I think it makes for a lot of talk and excitement about the game. I think that’s one thing I have really enjoyed about being here in general is that the football culture is so strong.
“To be in a place where that is the case is pretty cool.”
Powers was understandably disappointed to exit the cup at Easter Road but thinks there are several reasons to be cheerful about United’s performance over the two matches against a top-flight side.
He added: “I think, over the course of the two games, we created some great chances and we were level on goals with Hibs for long periods.
“The difference in the second match was probably the setpieces.
“Credit to them (Hibs) for what was a professional performance but I do believe we showed a lot of character to come back at them like we did.
“I think we are not too far off.
“I also believe we started really brightly.
“After the goal, we could have been a bit braver and pushed on.
“Sometimes it is hard, psychologically, not to protect your lead and we did go into our shell a little bit after we scored.
“As the game went on I think we progressed into it nicely.
“Without looking too far ahead, we are still focusing on the league to make sure we get there.
“Everyone does want to see how we measure up, though, and it is encouraging for the squad to understand that there is not a huge gap.
“At times, we played some really good football so it is positive for the group.
“It inspires us to go on and finish the job in the league.”