Hibs boss Alan Stubbs insists he won’t hesitate to promote on-song under-20s players to the first team after handing teenagers Lewis Allan and Scott Martin their debuts last weekend.
With Hibs missing five key men through injury and suspension for the trip to Falkirk, it paved the way for striker Allan, 18, and midfielder Martin, 17, to come on as second-half substitutes in the 1-0 defeat.
A month previously, 19-year-old goalkeeper Kleton Perntreou was given his first-team debut, while 18-year-old right-back Aaron Dunsmore and Callum Crane, an 18-year-old who can play at left-midfield or left-back, have both appeared on the Hibs bench this season.
Stubbs, who has experience of nurturing youngsters towards the first team from his time as a coach at Everton, insists age will be no barrier to anyone playing in his side.
“I’m definitely not scared of bringing boys in from the 20s,” the head coach told the Evening News. “I’m always of the belief that if they’re good enough, it doesn’t matter what age they are. I’ll always be prepared to put them in. That doesn’t worry me whatsoever.
“The two lads that came on last week have been doing well in the 20s and have trained with the first team on a few occasions now. It’s a pity it wasn’t in better circumstances but it’s great for them that they’ve made their debuts.”
Allan has been a regular presence on the Hibs bench this term since first featuring in pre-season, while Martin has been fast-tracked into the first-team mix after an eye-catching start to his time in the under-20 side. “Lewis has got good attributes for a striker,” Stubbs explained. “He’s a big lad who’ll hold the ball up and he’s powerful. He’s still very raw and has a lot to learn about the technical side of his game, where to run, when to run etc, but there’s plenty attributes to work with.
“Scott’s the baby of the 20s. He’s done really well – he just needs to keep his head down and keep knuckling away and hopefully he’ll have a chance of making it.”
While encouraged by the youthful options at his disposal, it didn’t escape Stubbs’ notice that only nine of his 18-man matchday squad last weekend were older than 20. This reinforced his belief that experienced players will have to be added in next month’s transfer window.
“Sometimes it can work in your favour having so many young players and sometimes it can work against you so we need to weigh that up,” he said. “The lack of experience in depth is something that we’ve spoken about. But we can’t do anything about it until the transfer window opens.”