It's little surprise that the latest move in Bobby Burns' young career has been meticulously thought through.
The Northern Ireland Under 21 international has penned a two-year deal at newly-promoted League Two side Barrow AFC, who are returning to the Football League after a 48-year hiatus.
The 20-year-old joins from Hearts, who have recently been relegated from the Scottish Premiership. He reported back for pre-season training at Tynecastle last week and within hours, was told by new boss Robbie Neilson that a bid had been accepted.
“He said that he would be happy for me to stay and that I would be in the squad,” Burns explains, “but he couldn’t be sure who might come or go and how the truncated season might work out so he couldn’t guarantee me game-time. The option was there for me, if I wanted to go, I could.”
Given that the studious left-sided player is still continuing a maths and business management degree through the Open University, it’s no shock that his decision over his latest career move wasn’t taken lightly.
First there was the predicament of Hearts’ relegation to consider and the shortened upcoming Championship season, condensed into only 27 games. With some of those taking place during international windows, his game-time could be limited, which, now at 20-years-old, wouldn’t be ideal.
Then there were alternative offers to mull over. One higher up the English football pyramid, another to return to Australia, where he spent last season on loan at Newcastle United Jets, and a third to come back to the Irish League in a full-time environment.
In order to make sure he came to the right conclusion, he researched his would-be employers while seeking advice from well-placed friends across the sport, not least the new Northern Ireland chief Ian Baraclough.
“Ian talked about the importance of players my age getting game-time, something which we were on the same wavelength about,” says Burns
“He also talked about how valuable it is to have a contract through the next couple of seasons with everything going on at the minute.
“He knew more about the club and it was great to get his input. It’s about improving and learning and nothing beats match scenarios for doing that so we agreed that it was the most important thing for me next season.”
Since moving into professional football from Glenavon two years ago, Burns has enjoyed only spurts of regular senior action during loan spells at Livingston in the Scottish Premiership, Down Under with the Jets and with parent club Hearts at the end of the 18/19 season.
While nothing is guaranteed, the Crumlin native is hopeful those runs can be extended into a season of starts under former Blackburn Rovers midfield supremo and new Barrow boss David Dunn.
It’s the manager’s intention to use wing-backs this season and he has cherry-picked Burns as the man who fits the left-sided bill.
“David sold the move for me,” continued Burns. “He said a lot of things that attracted me about the opportunity to establish myself in England and how the club are on the up.
“He talked about the system and the football they want to play so it was exciting to think about how I could fit into that. He had watched a lot of my games in Scotland and Australia, which made me think that he really wants me as part of his team.”
The end goal, as well as a flourishing club career, is to break into Baraclough’s senior Northern Ireland squad.
Burns has been involved in panels under Michael O’Neill and as key part of Baraclough’s Under 21s, it’s clear he’s also highly thought-of by the new senior boss.
In the past, he’s been open about his goal of getting get that senior cap but, for now, he knows he must begin to make strides for his club.
“Even if I play well at League Two I’m not sure that’s a high enough level to play senior international football so my main focus is on Barrow. It’s an exciting project and something I’m really looking forward to being a part of.
“It’s an opportunity to establish myself in English football and move closer to that level where I might be able to play for Northern Ireland.
“There are so many players who do well in League Two and get the opportunity to move up the football pyramid. If I can get a lot of games under my belt this year, hopefully it can help me push on in the future.”
While the club represents the town of Barrow-in-Furness, where it plays its home games at the tip of the Furness peninsula, training is based almost two hours away near Bury in Greater Manchester. It’s a cunning ploy to attract players who may otherwise be put-off by the remote locale and one that means Burns will be near fellow Northern Irishmen Lewis Thompson and Brad Lyons at Blackburn.
“Being part of English football is a positive for me, that’s where everybody wants to be playing,” he concluded.
“I could have got more money elsewhere but this is about getting the experience and putting myself in the right place for my career.
“It’s good to get something done early so I can get into pre-season training and prove myself. Hopefully I can show what I can do and be ready for the first game of the season.”
The deliberations are over and now the next chapter of Burns’ career begins.