Linfield boss David Healy has told potential suitors they’ll need deep pockets to sign highly-rated Blues teenager Trai Hume.
Several cross channel clubs, including Premier League outfit Burnley, are being linked with the promising right back who is highly rated by the Windsor Park club.
Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill also got a close look at the 19-year-old in Saturday’s 6-0 friendly win over the Big Two giants at The Dub.
Healy accepts Hume, who is contracted to Linfield until 2023, is destined to attract the attention of full-time clubs in England and Scotland.
But he insists the versatile defender, who returned to the champions in May after a productive loan spell with Ballymena United last season, won’t be leaving on the cheap.
“If somebody wants to pay…” he said. “I might have an interest in a Ferrari in the forecourt or showroom down there, but it doesn’t mean I can afford it.
“If any of our players are spotted or someone else asks the question about them, they can go to the club and speak to the chairman.”
Healy believes Hume, who started last week’s Champions League defeat to FK Zalgiris, is at the right club and in the right environment to develop his game.
The likes of Shayne Lavery, Gavin Whyte and Mark Sykes have all successfully used the Irish League as a platform to secure cross channel moves in recent years.
“Trai will get more games in the Irish League this year and possibly next year and he’s only going to be better for it,” said Healy.
“Shayne Lavery played 70 or 80 games for Linfield and Gavin Whyte and Mark Sykes also played a lot of Irish League games before they joined English clubs.
“Joel Cooper is also over there now, so others have proven if you play at this level you’ll be better prepared physically and mentally to go on and play at a higher level.”
Trai Hume impressed on loan at Ballymena United last season
(Image: ©INPHO/Brian Little)
Healy was reluctant to let Hume go on loan to Ballymena 12 months ago, but accepts the teenager benefited from regular football under David Jeffrey at the Showgrounds.
“Trai made a big decision last year and I was reluctant to let him go, but fair play to him, it worked out for him,” he said. “He went on loan to Ballymena and got the games and minutes he craved.
“I spoke to David (Jeffrey) and I knew he would be well looked after and well managed at Ballymena who gave him a platform and it worked out well.
“He has come back a bit more experienced and Trai being back here now gives us plenty of options and he’ll get plenty of games this season.”
Healy is surprised that Hume, who scored six goals for Ballymena last season, is still in Irish League football after starring for Northern Ireland at underage level.
“Trai was the captain of Northern Ireland’s Centenary Shield team and for whatever reason, at that stage, people didn’t take a chance on him,” he said.
“I was shocked he didn’t get a chance of an apprenticeship scheme (across the water) at the age of 16, but it’s a positive for us that he’s still here.”