Hibs boss Alan Stubbs has revealed he’s handed Alex Harris a “licence to thrill,” believing the teenage winger has recaptured the form which made him one of the most promising youngsters in Scottish football.
Harris burst on to the scene with a stunning goal to spark Hibs’ astonishing 2013 Scottish Cup semi-final comeback, the Easter Road side beating Falkirk 4-3 despite being three goals down at half-time.
But he broke his right ankle in the opening match of last season against Motherwell, the injury putting him out of action for five months. On his return, he struggled to make an impact with then manager Terry Butcher admitting his confidence appeared to have been badly shaken.
Stubbs, though, can see the former Edinburgh Academy pupil, who scored Hibs’ second goal in their win against Stirling Albion at the weekend as they maintained their unbeaten pre-season campaign, playing with a smile on his face again and believes that can only be good for the team.
The head coach said: “Alex is a very talented young lad, it’s not hard to see he has ability. But it’s hard when you are a young player and there’s a lot expected from you, a lot of pressure. So what I am trying to do is take that pressure away from him. We need to work with him, to help him in his game and, first and foremost, to work on his confidence. I think you can see he is a much happier person at this moment in time which is great. He needs to get on the pitch confident, to enjoy his football and I think it is fair to say he has a smile on his face and is enjoying it.”
And Stubbs obviously sees 19-year-old Harris’s creativity and pace as potent weapons for Hibs as they bid for immediate promotion from the Championship. He said: “I’ve given him the licence to go and play. If he makes a mistake he makes a mistake. He and the forward players are, unfortunately, the ones that will make the most mistakes because they are trying to influence the game more than other players.”
Meanwhile, former Hibs goalkeeper Ben Williams is on trial with English League One side Doncaster Rovers.