Hibs boss Terry Butcher today revealed he’s confident Easter Road kid Sam Stanton will soon sign a new contract.
The Capital club are in talks with the Scotland Under-21 star’s agent regarding a new deal although he still has more than a year of his current contract to run and Butcher is convinced the midfielder will commit his immediate future to Hibs.
Speaking as Stanton’s outstanding performances in a green-and-white shirt were recognised with the SPFL’s Young Player of the Month Award, Butcher said: “I’m absolutely thrilled for him. He’s from a long line of excellent Hibs youngsters and, if you look at the players who have left this club that had good seasons here and played a lot of football for Hibs, then I’m sure Sam will do exactly that.
“We are in contract talks with his agent. This is a great base for him. He’s played seven consecutive games, scored goals and lit up the Premiership with his displays. We are confident we can get him to stay here and hopefully that will be done soon. Sam won’t get carried away. He is very level-headed and you can see he is embarrassed [by some of the attention he is receiving] because he goes red in the face. He’s come a long way in the time we have been here.
“He has gone from not being in the squad, to being in the team, to the Scotland set-up and now he is picking up awards.”
While Stanton was certain to be one of the first names on Butcher’s team list for today’s crucial Premiership
clash with Partick Thistle at Firhill, reserve goalkeeper Sean Murdoch remained on standby to replace No.1 Ben Williams whose wife Gemma is expecting their second child.
As the Evening News exclusively revealed, Hibs travelled to Inverness midweek with all three goalkeepers, Williams, Murdoch and youngster Paul Grant in the squad, a precautionary measure should the Englishman have received the call to be present at the birth and the same contingency will be in place today.
Although Murdoch has yet to play under Butcher – his only first-team game for Hibs coming against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park last May – the Hibs boss insisted he’d have no worries should the former Dunfermline and Hamilton stopper be thrown into a match which Hibs desperately need to win to keep their fading top-six hopes alive.
Butcher said: “Ben will be in goals for us until the first contractions. Sean’s the No.2 goalkeeper and he will be the No.1 goalkeeper if Ben’s good lady goes into labour.”
While Thistle manager Alan Archibald has talked of a Jags win hauling Hibs into the play-off battle, Butcher insisted his eyes are still fixed on overhauling sixth-placed St Johnstone.
He said: “I don’t think that is a threat.
“We are looking to win the game and put daylight between ourselves and Partick.
“But more than that, we are looking to close the gap on St Johnstone. I understand what he [Archibald] is trying to say. Any team that goes on a good run – say three or four victories – will claw other teams back and rise above plenty of others. That is our intention and it is what’s needed.
“It’s coming down to the wire now, do-or-die time, and we know everybody has to give everything. There is no room for error. Effort and attitude need to be spot-on.
“They need to be brave and pass the ball like they can do. A lot of these players have won games as a team, home and away, and it will take more of those performances in the next four games – and probably a bit more.”