THE very fact that Celtic, Rangers and a host of top English Premier League clubs have been linked with moves for precocious Wigan striker Kyle Joseph in recent weeks is an indication of his ability. For Billy Stark though, who coaches the forward with Scotland’s under-19 side, the indications are there is also a lot more to come.

Former Celtic midfielder Stark has been bowled over by the infectious attitude, work ethic and willingness to improve exhibited by the rangy 19-year-old since his arrival on the Scotland scene, and he is far from surprised to see some of Britain’s biggest clubs fighting it out for his signature.

Celtic have a strong interest in bringing Joseph to the club to increase their striking options, with Odsonne Edouard expected to leave for pastures new this summer, and Stark is intrigued by how the frontman would handle such a move if his old team do get their man.

“I can give Kyle a great recommendation, he’s a lovely boy,” Stark said.

“He’s a Liverpool lad actually. Bruce Rioch’s son Gregor is the head of the academy at Wigan, and we obviously have a scouting network, so he was recommended to us a couple of years ago.

“We brought him in, had a look at him, and he has featured every time since then.

“He’s six foot two, he’s mobile, and he’s improved I must say. Technically he wasn’t the best when we first had him, we definitely felt it wasn’t the strongest part of his game coming towards the ball and having his back to goal, that sort of thing.

“What he has got is pace, a great appetite to run and work for the team, and his goalscoring record throughout the levels was excellent at Wigan.

“He’s injured just now, but he’s carried that on in the first-team, most notably scoring a hat-trick.

“His finishing has improved as well, so he’s a great package for any club at 19-years-old, and there is plenty of room still for improvement too.

“The basics are there to improve him, and he’s a boy who is desperate to learn. I can’t speak highly enough of him.”

Despite his tender years, Stark is certain that Joseph would more than handle himself among the rough and tumble of the Scottish Premiership.

But he warned Celtic that they will have to move fast if they are to secure his signature, with his other stand-out qualities making him a hot commodity.

“I’m sure there will be a host of big clubs looking at him,” he said. “He’s had a big impact, and though he hasn’t played that many first team games for Wigan, he’s shown qualities that are so attractive for clubs.

“That mobility and pace is pretty crucial in terms of middle to front players now, it’s a real asset. And when you marry that with his willingness to work his tail off for the team, which was really apparent from the start, then you have a player on your hands.

“I’ve still got the footage of a game we played against Azerbaijan over at a facility we use over in Spain for our preparatory games.

“They were quite physical, to put it mildly, and there was a ball played up the touchline. Kyle curved his run and was getting onto it, and the centre-half came onto him square on and gave him a real dunt.

“He jumped over the wall, straddled a few seats, then immediately came back down, got on the pitch and was ready to go again. It was amazing, and showed a real impressive temperament. Anyone else would have been down trying to punch the lad.

“That is another example of a quality that will stand him in good stead.

“I know he’s 19, but he’s still a young player. I can only go by the raw materials that he’s got, and the fact that he’s shown an improvement over the couple of years that I’ve had him.

“He’s still got plenty of room for improvement, but the fact he is that type of character who wants to learn and do his bit for the team, that attracts people as well.”

Joseph has scored five goals in just 12 starts for Wigan this season, form which has seen the likes of Arsenal sniffing around him with an eye to poaching him for their under-23 squad.

The promise of more first-team opportunities may be a factor Celtic could use to tip the scales on their favour, but Stark says that even though Joseph possess all the tools that should conceivably make him a success at that level, predicting who can cut it at either of the Old Firm clubs is still an inexact science.

“It’s too big a question that to be honest,” he said. “All you can say is that he has the talent and the personality, but sometimes that’s not enough.

“We only have them for a short space of time when they’re on international duty, so you can’t know them overly well, but personality comes into it when you’re playing for the Old Firm, and he’s got a lovely personality.

“He’s shown that determination that we’ve seen, but Celtic and Rangers have paid big money for players and they’ve not been able to produce what they hoped they would get.

“I’ve not been able to see how he is when his confidence is low, and how he reacts to that, for example. He loves coming away with Scotland and he’s always bouncing into the camp full of positivity.

“There’s too many deep-rooted questions to predict whether someone will be a success at the Old Firm, especially a young boy.

“Speaking generally, if he was on the books of another Scottish Premiership club, he’d be getting game time, there’s no doubt about that.

"But there’s lots of different questions to be asked over whether a player can handle the Old Firm, and it’s only when you pull that jersey on that you know for sure whether someone can handle it.”