Neil Lennon has admitted he could put plans to send Ryan Porteous out on loan for a second time on hold after the 18-year-old defender starred in Hibs’ opening pre-season matches.
Dumbarton boss Stevie Aitken is keen to recruit Porteous, who impressed on a season-long deal with League Two newcomers Edinburgh City.
Both Aitken and Brechin City manager Darren Dods have been in touch with the Easter Road outfit asking about his availability for the coming season.
Exposing Porteous to Championship football would represent another step in the highly-rated youngster’s development, with Aitken appearing convinced he’d be heading along the M8 when he said nearly a fortnight ago that while the paperwork had still to be completed, “everything has been agreed”.
However, in the intervening period Porteous, a Scotland Under-19 cap, has played the entire 90 minutes of Hibs 4-0 win over Dunfermline and followed it up with a further half-hour as Hibs came back from 2-0 down to draw with Sunderland in Lewis Stevenson’s testimonial match,
Lennon said: “Ryan looked comfortable, he’s done well. He was superb last Thursday and did well on Sunday.”
Asked what his plans were for the coming season as far as Porteous was concerned, the Hibs boss said: “That’s to be decided. He is our player and we will make that decision, we’ll decide what is best for him going forward.”
Lennon revealed, though, that Porteous isn’t the only Easter Road kid catching his eye, Scott Martin, Oli Shaw, Fraser Murray and Callum Crane having all also featured in recent days,
Shaw, a prolific scorer for Hibs development squad last season, claimed Hibs’ fourth goal at East End Park and almost grabbed a winner against the Black Cats when he hit the bar.
“We needed Hawkeye for that one,” joked Lennon, “I thought it was in but he certainly has an eye for goal. But all the young boys are coming on really well. They’ve all been around the first team for a while so it doesn’t faze them. If they continue their progression they’ll be in the first team sooner rather than later.”
All five youngsters are set to play again tonight as Hibs wrap up their pre-season preparations with a trip to face Berwick Rangers ahead of their first competitive match, Saturday’s Betfred clash with League Two Montrose at Easter Road.
Lennon said: “The senior boys who have played 90 minutes will get a rest tonight, have tomorrow off and then prepare for the weekend.”
Former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant will pull on a green-and-white jersey for a third time at Shielfield Park before Lennon makes a decision on whether to offer the 34-year-old a contract.