SCOTLAND manager Alex McLeish has urged Craig Gordon to seize a "chance of lifetime" by quitting Hearts for a move to the Barclays Premier League.
Gordon, 24, was today heading south of the border to hold talks with Sunderland after Black Cats boss Roy Keane rekindled his interest in the goalkeeper.
The Hearts skipper is also expected to have discussions with Aston Villa this week, having also been targeted by former Celtic manager Martin O'Neill.
Hearts will demand around 9million for the sale of their prized asset, making Gordon the most expensive goalkeeper in British football history.
McLeish believes such a transfer can only be good news for the national team, pointing out that the hefty price tag means he does not have to worry about his first-choice goalkeeper warming the bench with next month's Euro 2008 qualifier in France looming.
"It would be a great move," he enthused. "It would be fantastic for Craig as long as he plays and I don't think anyone who is willing to pay 9million for Craig Gordon is going to make him a substitute.
"It looks as though it's a career advance for him if he gets this coveted move to the Premiership. I believe it is the right time for him. Nothing against Hearts but this is the chance of a lifetime to go to the Premiership."
Gordon would not crack under the pressure if he were to move to English football's top tier, according to McLeish. In fact, the Scotland manager believes he would flourish in such surroundings having been forced to endure plenty of turmoil at Hearts over the last couple of years.
He said: "You hope it takes him to another level and, certainly, it won't do his confidence any harm knowing that Premiership clubs want to buy him.
"It gives the player a stronger mentality and much more belief in himself.
"He's a very level-headed guy and he's quite a tough cookie. He has handled many a crisis in his career over the last two seasons and he has come through it all."
Meanwhile, McLeish is also hoping to benefit from James Morrison's proposed switch from Middlesbrough to West Brom after the England-born midfielder recently switched allegiance to Scotland.
He said: "He's now on the verge of a move to West Brom, which is even more good news for us. If Tony Mowbray is going to pay 2million for him, he's going to play him every week."