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Brian Easton backs James McArthur to win England switch

James McArthur and Brian Easton celebrate
McArthur and Easton came through the ranks together with Hamilton

By Alasdair Lamont

Brian Easton believes his Hamilton Accies team-mate James McArthur is a certainty to follow his and James McCarthy's example by moving to the Premier League in England.

Left-back Easton moved back to Accies on loan in January having failed to break into the first team at Burnley since his move south in the summer.

But McCarthy has recently established himself in Wigan's first team and Easton is sure McArthur will enjoy similar success when he makes a move that now seems inevitable.

"James is destined to play at the highest level and I think, come the end of the season, there'll be a few clubs sniffing about him," Easton told BBC Scotland.

West Bromwich Albion are known suitors of McArthur's and failed in a bid to take him, initially on loan, in January.

Sunderland and Sheffield United were represented at Saturday's match against St Mirren and are likely to have been impressed by what they saw of the young midfielder.

"I think he's been fantastic this season," said Easton. "He's been captain most of the season in Alex Neil's absence and he's handled that so well at such a young age. He's only 22 and he's got a lot more to come."

Accies manager Billy Reid said after Saturday's match he had been surprised that McArthur had not been included in Craig Levein's first Scotland squad to face the Czech Republic on Wednesday and Easton agreed.

"You look at some of the players in there and, if James McArthur had been in, he wouldn't have looked out of place," said the defender.

McCarthy delighted by Republic call-up

Easton acknowledged that McArthur would face a difficult decision in the summer if offered a move to a top-level English club in the sense that he would go from being an automatic first pick to having to compete with a far stronger pool of players for a first-team place.

"We're all good pals - James, myself and James McCarthy - so he's had the benefit of looking at two opposite ends of the scales, me not playing so much and coming back on loan, and we talk regularly about it," he said.

"I think he's good enough to play, even for most sides in the Premier League.

"But, even if he was to go down and not play every week, he knows not to get too frustrated because he's seen James McCarthy push through in the second half of the season and he's doing really well now."

Easton's own ambitions are to help keep Accies in the Scottish Premier League and then return to Burnley to try to force his way into Brian Laws' plans for next season.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

"I've still got another two years left at Burnley, so my plan is to go back and do what I was doing, keep trying to push for the first team," he said.

"Obviously, with a new manager there, I only played under him for a few weeks, but I didn't want to sit about for another six months and not play.

"So, when I had a word with him about going out on loan, he was quite supportive of it."

In the immediate future, Easton is hoping to add to his solitary Scotland Under-21 cap when Billy Stark's side take on Azerbaijan at Falkirk Stadium on Tuesday.

"The last time we played Azerbaijan, I had tonsillitis the night before we left, so I was in bed in the hotel over there," he recalled.

"Hopefully I can get in the starting XI and we can get another three points, because we're doing well in the qualifying phase.

"We've played every team in the group and, although we were beaten by Austria, we looked like we could take points off them, so I think, with the team we've got, we've got a real good chance of doing it and the finals in 2011 would be something to really look forward to."



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see also
Reid urges McArthur Scotland call
27 Feb 10 |  Hamilton
St Mirren 0-0 Hamilton Accies
27 Feb 10 |  Scottish Premier


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