16 Feb Owen Coyle hoping Ross County’s Harry Souttar gets better of older brother
Owen Coyle hopes Ross County will come out on top of Saturday’s family feud as Staggies defender Harry Souttar takes on big brother John for the first time.
Souttar junior and his Hearts sibling came through the ranks together at Dundee United but they have never faced each other in first-team action.
That will change this weekend though, when the Jambos make the trip north to Dingwall.
County boss Coyle knows exactly what it’s like to line-up against close relatives, having played with and against elder brothers Joe and Tommy during his own playing days.
And while there were times when their passion for the game caused friction at home, he insists there was never any love lost as a result.
Now Coyle is backing the Souttar pair to both enjoy promising futures – but only after his man grabs the bragging rights.
“I’m from a family of brothers who played,” explained the former Republic of Ireland international.
“My two older brothers Joseph and Thomas played professionally and I played against them and played with them.
“In fact, going way back in history, when I played at Dumbarton there were the McAdam brothers – Tom and Colin, who went on to play against each other for Celtic and Rangers. There were also Murdo and Alastair MacLeod back then too.
“That’s the brilliant thing about football, it always throws up these wee intricacies.
“What I do know about this weekend’s game is that the two lads involved are two fantastic young professionals with big futures. We just hope Harry comes out on top.
“I can only speak about my own experiences but I remember when my two old brothers players. Thomas was captain at Dumbarton and Joseph had moved on to Airdrieonians.
“When they played, they were living in the same house but never actually spoke to each other for a week in the build up to the game.
“That’s just how much football means to people so never under-estimate the love and passion that people have for the game.
“I’ve seen it close hand and I’m sure there will be bits of that between the Souttar brothers this week.”
The elder Souttar has been in imperious form alongside Jambos defensive partner Christophe Berra in recent months.
Together, the Hearts defenders have formed a rock-solid pairing that helped set a club-record 831 minutes without conceding.
But there are chinks in the Edinburgh side’s back-line, which Coyle’s basement boys can exploit, according to the Gorgie centre-back’s County sibling.
“Defensively they are well organised and recently broke the record for clean sheets,” said Harry Souttar.
“But they are beatable – everybody is – and on our day we can cause any team problems.
“We just have to do what we can do, focus on ourselves and hope our forward players come up with a little bit of magic.”