Australia call-up Ryan McGowan is being courted by Sheffield Wednesday as he prepares for a probable Socceroos debut against Scotland next week.
The Hearts defender, who is coming off a breakthrough season for the Scottish Premier League club, has attracted the interest of the Owls who have been promoted back in the English Championship this season under the tutelage of former Southampton, Wolverhampton and Cardiff coach Dave Jones.
McGowan has 11 months remaining on his Hearts deal and is settled in Scotland where younger brother Dylan is also a member of John McGlynn’s squad.
But it’s believed the offer on the table from the Hillsborough club is substantial as it seeks to build a platform for a return to the English Premier League.
The interest from Wednesday is recognition of McGowan’s recent feats, which include scoring in last season’s 5-1 Scottish Cup final drubbing of Hibs.
"Wednesday are keen but we are also now in the process of starting talks on a contract extension with Hearts where he has been very happy over the past four years or so," his agent, Lou Sticca, telling The World Game:
"He’s got a superb relationship with the fans and is loving life up there right now. He’s not simply going to move for the sake of it."
McGowan echoed those sentiments.
"Hearts have been good to me and I have learned a lot here and I feel at home in Edinburgh. They have helped me develop as a player and I feel I am going forward here," he said.
"If other clubs are interested that’s flattering but I will leave my agent to deal with that side of things."
It’s understood Wednesday, which is owned by flamboyant former Portsmouth proprietor Milan Mandaric, is looking for a player capable of playing anywhere across the back four, with McGowan renowned for his versatility.
The uncapped McGowan turns 23 on the eve of Australia’s clash against the Scots (Thursday 5.00am AEST) and remains on the radar of Scotland coach Craig Levein, despite his first call-up for the Socceroos.
Under FIFA regulations Hearts’ Young Player of The Year could still conceivably play for Scotland after representing Australia in a friendly international but the player born in Adelaide to Scottish parents appears unlikely to take the bait.
His naming by Holger Osieck sparked a backlash among Scottish fans against the Scottish FA for letting him slip through its grasp.
But McGowan, who is steeped in green and gold, never saw it that way, insisting his allegiance was always to Australia.
"It's flattering to be thought of as a player in demand but I was born and bred in Australia and have played for the under 17, under 20 and under 23 teams and my heart is there," he said.
"I've been hoping to be called up for my country for a long time at senior level and I'm really excited about it.
"I never saw it as a case of Australia over Scotland. In my mind, it was always about Australia and I have never been approached by Scotland in an official capacity anyhow.
"I would love to be part of Australia's World Cup campaign, but I know I have a long way to go. If I can get some game time against Scotland that would be great but I am just happy to be involved with the squad and I am looking forward to getting into camp."
Levein, however, doesn't appear to have given up hope, saying during the week: "I have got a game in November against Luxembourg and Ryan is one that I am considering looking at for that.
"He has done well and he had a really good season last season and I would love to see him progress and do as well again this year. He is an exciting young player and we will see how that one goes."
These are heady days for McGowan, with Hearts drawn to face Liverpool in a two-legged Europa League play-off later this month.
Tommy Oar is aiming to parlay a breakout season for FC Utrecht into a telling contribution for his country as Australia faces its FIFA 2014 World Cup destiny next month.