Harry Souttar is in safe hands, with the specialist who took care of Liverpool and Netherlands star Virgil van Dijk given the job of operating on the Stoke City defender’s ruptured ACL.
The former Dundee United centre-back, who faces the best part of a year out of action after sustaining a serious knee injury on World Cup qualification duty for Australia, is currently in London.
And Stoke are making sure their £20 million asset gets the very best medical attention.
Dad Jack confirmed: “He’s been taken down to London to get checked out at a clinic there.
“Stoke are looking after him well.
“He’s actually with the same lad that did Virgil Van Dijk’s operation. Hopefully it’s a straightforward operation for Harry.”
Two brothers, one dream
Qatar 2022 dreams will fuel Harry’s motivation on the long and arduous comeback trail.
And the support of Hampden hero brother John will also play its part.
Jack has seen one of his boys endure a succession of body blows in his football career – and come out the other side with a momentous goal for Scotland against Denmark.
Incredible ❤️ https://t.co/bOZ1BFLn29
— Harry Souttar (@harryjsouttar) November 16, 2021
Just days before John was heading the ball past Kasper Schmeichel, Harry had gone down on Australian turf in agony.
But the bright light at the end of the tunnel is playing for the country of his mother’s birth at a World Cup, as the recuperation process begins.
The Socceroos are now out of the automatic qualification spots after a 1-1 draw with China but there’s still a chance they and Scotland could both be at the finals next winter.
And the same goes for the Souttar boys.
“The World Cup is a huge incentive for Harry,” said Jack. “Hopefully Australia will qualify without him.
“The Australia manager has been fantastic – saying things like ‘we’ll get Harry back in time for the World Cup’.
“For the mental side of the recovery that is such a big thing to keep him going. It will be difficult but Harry will have John there for him as well.
“Harry has helped John and now John will help Harry.
“It’s the only serious injury I can remember Harry getting.
“There have been a few muscle strains as you would imagine but nothing as major as this.
“It was a monsoon in Sydney and he turned in the box. It can happen to anybody. It was just bad luck.
“His leg was planted when he twisted his knee. I knew it was a bad one.
“He heard it pop and it turned out to be a ruptured cruciate ligament. That’s football and that’s life. You just have to get on with it.”
Big clubs were circling
Not only did Harry’s Stoke form help establish him as an Australian international it also brought scouts from the likes of Everton, Spurs and Aston Villa flocking to the Championship club.
“Harry’s been playing really well for Stoke,” said Jack. “There’s never a good time to get an injury like that but it was a bad time when you consider how things have been going for him.”
Like John, Harry has worn the dark blue of Scotland, but he drifted out of the picture with the SFA and an offer from Down Under was too tempting to turn down.
“Harry didn’t get asked to play for Scotland at 21s,” said Jack. “He’d played 19s but I don’t think they fancied him.
“Australia asked about him.
“You could sit and wait but if somebody wants you, you’re not going to say ‘no’.
“Harry’s a Scottish lad. Of course he is. He was born and brought up here.
“But you can’t wait and hope that somebody is going to want you. One door closed and another one opened.
“He’s so happy with decision he made. Australia have treated him very well and he’s seeing new parts of the world.
“My wife (Heather) was born in Western Australia. She is obviously very proud. As am I, of course.
“I’m just as proud to see my boys play for two different countries as I would be if they were both playing for the same one.
“I think they played a game together once when they were at United – against Hamilton at St Andrews.
“The last time they played against each other was Ross County versus Hearts which ended up a 0-0 draw was one.
“Not a great result for many people, apart from our family!”