Coll Donaldson had links to big clubs down south as a teenager – and he backs Ross County teammate Leo Hjelde for an upward path as Leeds United interest leads him down a similar road.

County manager John Hughes labeled the 17-year-old Celtic loanee ‘the next Virgil Van Dijk’ after his impressive form warranted Leeds United interest prior to his winter loan move from Parkhead. Playing regularly at 17 as Ross County fight for Scottish Premiership survival, Donaldson is impressed.

Hjelde has been linked to Leeds United while on loan at Ross County.

Hjelde has been linked to Leeds United while on loan at Ross County. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

He too had Premier League links as a teenage centre-back but Donaldson says Hjelde is something special: “Leo has been great. You have to look at his age. He is only 17 years of age. It’s quite easy to forget that because he doesn’t really play like a 17-year-old. It’s his first experience of men’s football and it’s a relegation battle.

“It’s the hardest challenge to come into. But I think that is the type of player he is. He’s very confident in his own ability and he’s played different positions. He’ll have a bright future if he continues to play the way he is doing. I can remember playing first-team football at 18 and sometimes you think it’s quite easy.

“There will be challenges along the way but he’s done great. Leo will do what’s best for him. He’ll have his family and agent and he’ll decide whether or not he wants to try it down south. But he’s at a big club in Celtic so he’ll assess it, it’s a bit of a different situation to mine. All I care about is that he’s done well for my team.”

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