FORMER Scotland internationalist Craig Beattie fears Oliver Burke could become a wasted talent like Mario Balotelli. 

The 22-year-old was the Hampden hero on Saturday as his last-gasp strike against Cyprus secured a 2-1 victory in Steve Clarke’s first match as national team boss. 

It was Burke’s maiden goal for the Scotland senior side and a welcome boost following a miserable end to his campaign at club level, falling completely out of favour under Celtic manager Neil Lennon as his loan stint from West Brom petered out. 

Nevertheless, Beattie, who won seven caps and also turned out for the Baggies and the Hoops, saw familiar failings and is adamant Burke is not the natural striker Scotland need. 

“I was watching the game and I was hesitant to say it, but I’m scared that Oli Burke is going to turn into a [Mario] Balotelli,” he said. 

“I think he has all the ability in the world - he is so quick, so strong, his physique is incredible. There is no question he could improve his first touch but he has so much ability and so much potential. 

“But I just watch him at times and think he doesn’t know where to run, he doesn’t want to run. 

“There was a moment when Stephen O’Donnell had the ball in the right-back area late in the game and he was standing at the opposite side of the pitch. I was thinking: ‘Do you not know you need to be near side, giving him an option?’

“I don’t know whether it is that he doesn’t want to do it or just hasn’t learned it yet. He has tonnes of ability but someone needs to get it out of him regularly.” 

He added: “I would like someone to identify what his actually position is because I don’t think he is a centre-forward. Nor do I think he’s a winger. So is he a number 10? And is he intelligent enough to play in that hole?”

Burke also has two hefty price-tags to live up to, having moved to RB Liepzig from Nottingham Forest in a £13 million deal as a teenager before returning to English football a year later, joining West Brom for £15 million.

His future is now in the balance, with his opportunities at the Hawthorns seemingly limited, and Beattie reckons his stint at Parkhead has done him no favours. Burke scored four goals in 19 appearances for the Hoops.

“He is going to struggle because it is no secret what the English perception of Scottish football is,” added Beattie. “They [English clubs] will be looking at Oli Burke, coming up here with a huge reputation and two huge price tags, and he can’t get a game for Celtic. 

“When he goes back down south, his reputation is going to be tarnished.”