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Hearts is hopefully the first step on a long European career for Nathaniel Atkinson

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Roar Guru
23rd December, 2021
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Glasgow will forever be the city associated with Scottish football.

Celtic and Rangers tend to win all the trophies every year, but there is a small team from Edinburgh this season that is leading the race in the best of the rest for the third spot: Heart of Midlothian FC.

Hearts won’t be challenging for the title, but third place looks a realistic option as Motherwell and Hibernian struggle along this campaign.

They may not have the following of the two big guns from Glasgow in Australia, but that could soon change with the transfer of yet another Australian.

Melbourne City’s Nathaniel Atkinson will be the club’s first signing in the January 2022 window, after his departure was announced earlier this week.

Atkinson has quickly established himself as one of the best right backs in Australia for the past few seasons and the boy from Tasmania will look to make an impact in Europe.

Nathaniel Atkinson

(Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

If he needs any advice, all he has to do is ask compatriot Cameron Devlin.

Devlin had been expected to line up for the Newcastle Jets after coming off a career-best season with the Wellington Phoenix.

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However, Hearts made the Jets an offer they couldn’t refuse and Devlin was on his way to the cold of south Scotland.

While locals were skeptical of the young, diminutive midfielder, he has quickly become one of the stars of their season.

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Devlin has been a combative lynchpin in Scotland. Opta stats have him ranked near the top for midfielders in Scotland for defensive actions, possession-adjusted interceptions and defensive duels per 90 minutes.

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Hearts fans have even started singing quite a funny, profanity-laden chant about Devlin, who surprisingly still hasn’t been called up for a maiden Socceroos cap yet.

Atkinson will be hoping this move will firmly establish himself as the number one for the national team’s right-back position.

Sydney FC’s Rhyan Grant appears to slowly being transitioned out of the team, while Bresica’s Fran Karacic and Maccabi Haifa’s Ryan Strain have had injury-plagued 2021 campaigns.

Australian defender Rhyan Grant crosses

(Photo by Getty Images)

If Atkinson starts well at Hearts, the right-back position with the Socceroos looks his to lose.

Atkinson will become the 31st Australian player to have taken part in the Scottish Premiership – and his path to the first-choice right back at the club looks good with the incumbent Taylor Moore only being on a temporary loan deal from Bristol City.

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson is a big admirer of the mentality and hard work that Australian footballers are known for, and it would be no surprise to see him sign another Australian player in the next year or two.

Neilson’s main priority right now will be hoping his medical staff can help keep Atkinson fit after his injury-plagued start to this season in the A-League Men with Melbourne City.

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Swapping the warmth of Australia’s summer for the blistering cold of Scotland’s winter could prove a challenge for the player whose body has struggled with soft-tissue injuries recently.

Scotland and Australia have a long, storied history together when it comes to football.

The Scots are now starting to take a closer look at the recruitment of players and coaches from Australia after the success of 2021.

Ange Postecoglou has won many admirers only several months into the Celtic head coach job and the resurgence of a hungry Tom Rogic has been a long time coming.

Cameron Devlin has been key to Hearts’ climb up the ladder and Martin Boyle has been his usual, consistent self with Hibernian.

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Although Scottish football isn’t the most technical of leagues and many teams look like headless chickens running around, this is the first step into hopefully a long European career for Nathaniel Atkinson.

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