Igor Rossi backs Hearts team-mate Souttar for Scotland call-up
Igor Rossi has hailed fellow Hearts centre-back John Souttar's hunger for improvement and tipped him for Scotland honours sooner rather than later.
Souttar has been an ever-present for Hearts in the Ladbrokes Premiership this season, keeping former captain Alim Ozturk out of the team.
The Scotland Under-21 international re-established himself in his favoured position at Tynecastle after playing in midfield and right-back for Dundee United and Rossi feels his extra training will help him succeed.
The 20-year-old will have high hopes on his shoulders given Scotland's shortage of options in central defence.
Rossi said: "Souttar is a good guy and a good defender. He's still a young boy but every day after training he says to me: 'Come on, let's go for more training.'
"That is important because he is a young boy and he feels he needs more training. I like this because doing more is important.
"I think he can play for Scotland, of course. I look at other centre-backs in Scotland and I think he is the best, number one or number two or three.
"He is young but with more experience he will be very good."
The pair are looking to tighten up on Saturday when Hearts host St Johnstone after conceding five goals in two matches.
"This game is very important because we have the same points as St Johnstone," Rossi said.
"It's very important to keep a clean sheet."
Tommy Wright expects Hearts to give St Johnstone as tough a test as anyone on Saturday despite two victories over the Jambos this season.
Saints triumphed 3-2 in their Betfred Cup meeting at McDiarmid Park in August and 1-0 when the sides met at the same venue in the league the following month.
Hearts have only lost once since and are sitting in third place ahead of fifth-place St Johnstone on goal difference, with Aberdeen sandwiched in between although the Dons could move up against Partick Thistle on Friday night.
The Perth club's boss is looking for his side to bounce back from their 2-1 home defeat to Partick Thistle last week but knows the trip to Tynecastle against Robbie Neilson's side will be another huge test for his side.
He said: "They were a couple of ding-dong games against Hearts. They are one of the sides who have given us the most problems this season.
"They will feel aggrieved (at the league game), they probably felt they should have been out of sight.
"They were really good that day but we stuck in the game and got a goal.
"They are a good side, a quality side, very powerful at home and they are a big club.
"They can go out and attract players from a different pool from the one we are trying to attract players from.
"But it is a challenge for us, we want to try to stay on the coat tails of Aberdeen, Hearts and Rangers for as long as possible.
"And that is a great challenge for a club our size and our players, to come up against clubs with more resources and try to do as well if not better than them."
Midfielder Liam Craig remembers how difficult it was to get the points against Hearts in Perth.
He said: "The home game in the league, rather than the cup, Robbie would maybe say that was one of the best performances of the season.
"They were excellent on the day but big Zander (Clark) was excellent for us in goals and we scored one of the few chances we did create and won the game.
"Hearts have really good players and they can hurt so it us up to us to take chances when we get them.
"Tynecastle is always a great venue for players to play in and we are looking forward to it."