That the Scottish Football Writers have recognised Ali McCann by shortlisting him for their young player of the year award was no great shock for his St Johnstone team-mate, Murray Davidson.
And that the Scottish Football Association had already let the midfielder slip through their net didn’t raise an eyebrow either.
The Perth youth product was overlooked for an age-group Scotland call-up when he was coming through the ranks at McDiarmid Park but has been capped at under-21 level for Northern Ireland and is on the verge of full honours.
As Davidson pointed out, the 18-year-old has certainly showed the SFA what they are missing after putting together a stunning debut Premiership campaign.
“It’s crazy to think Scotland haven’t been near him,” said the former Livingston man.
“But it doesn’t really surprise you. I am not sure how the Northern Ireland thing came about when he was born and brought up in Edinburgh.
“You’d think someone from the Scotland set-up would have been aware of him and been keeping an eye on him.
“But if he does go on to play for Northern Ireland, they’ll be delighted because he’s a player with a big future ahead of him.
“It will be Scotland’s loss if that’s what happens.”
McCann’s rivals for the Scottish Football Writers’ Association Double Tree By Hilton young player of the season award are Aaron Hickey of Hearts, Motherwell’s Allan Campbell and Lewis Ferguson of Aberdeen.
You would have a hard job building a persuasive case that any of those three have been as impressive as the Saints star in 2019/20.
“Ali deserves to be nominated because he was excellent last season,” Davidson.
“You saw from day one of pre-season that his loan spell had worked for him. He was stronger and fitter.
“The gaffer put him in against Celtic and he just improved massively every month since then.
“He was never someone you looked at at a younger age and he blew you away, but he always came across as a boy who wanted to learn and was willing to put the work in.
“That’s one of the biggest things for me playing alongside him. If you speak to him about something either during a game or in training he takes it on board and you can see him doing it.
“He’s good to play alongside. He’s quiet but he has a confidence in his ability.
“He doesn’t say too much at times but his performances have done all the talking.”
The fact that McCann became a permanent fixture in a struggling Saints team said everything about his early season impact. But a Boxing Day winner at Hamilton proved to be transformative.
“Starting to score goals is massive for a midfielder,” said Davidson. “It takes your game to a whole new level.
“He’d been the holding midfielder but we changed formation and that released him to get up and down the park a bit more.
“I think he scored four goals in a month, which boosted him massively and really made people take notice of him.
“His progression was quicker than I expected and quicker than the manager expected I think.
“The gaffer always spoke highly of him and knew he was a player, but the way he’s taken to being a first team player has been very impressive.
“He deserves to be nominated alongside other good players and hopefully he gets the recognition.”
Meanwhile, Davidson is keeping his fingers crossed that talk of a return to training this month for the Premiership clubs proves to be accurate.
“We have not heard anything concrete about coming back but it’s good to have a date for clubs starting to train again,” he said.
“The club will be working on a training plan so I’m sure in the next few days we’ll hear when we are going back to work.
“All the lads are desperate to get back again. We have been counting down the days to coming back in.”