Livingston’s Kieran Gibbons believes his cousin and Hibs midfielder, John McGinn, is destined to don the blue of Scotland at senior level one day.
The duo are preparing to go head to head in tomorrow’s Championship clash at Almondvale where family loyalties will be divided in what promises to be an intriguing midfield tussle between the 20-year-olds.
Both players sought a new challenge over the summer with Gibbons moving to West Lothian from Aberdeen while McGinn left St Mirren to sign a four-year deal with Alan Stubbs’ Hibs, scoring his first goal for the Easter Road club in last weekend’s 3-0 win over Alloa. And, although Gibbons is firmly focused on the task in hand as Livi go in search of their first league victory of the campaign, the former Dons Under-20 captain spoke fondly of his relative.
“I’m not being biased but he’s one of the best young midfielders in the country,” Gibbons said of McGinn, who has six Scotland Under-21 caps.
“Even from a young age, you could tell he was brilliant technically. He would see things at five years old you wouldn’t be able to see from the side of the park. I’ve always known he’d make it and he’ll do well at Hibs. I have no doubt he can go on and get a senior Scotland cap too.
“We played at the same club in Glasgow from the age of four, playing seven-a-side where he would be on the left wing and me on the right so that was a good to experience.
“Even after training when we were younger we’d always go down to the park and kick the ball about so there was never any rivalry.
“We are all a close family so we always see each other at family parties. Being roughly the same age as well, we’re good pals which adds to it a bit more.”
Gibbons, pictured below, recalls more recent times in the pair’s respective careers when they were pitched against one another in a Under-20 fixture between Aberdeen and St Mirren.
“We’ve played against each other a few times and it’s been pretty funny as we’ve been directly against one another,” Gibbons said. “But more recently I’ve come out on top with us winning 2-1 a few years ago in a Under-20 Development game.
“Both sets of families will be there tomorrow with a few other aunties and uncles so there’s going to be a few there to see the game. But for ninety minutes, no matter who you’re coming up against, everything goes out the way. That’s why I love football as you can hate each other and then it’s back to normal. The main thing for us is to get the three points tomorrow.”
Despite McGinn’s presence in the Hibs side this season, Gibbons admitted his knowledge of tomorrow’s opponents is somewhat limited.
The Livingston midfielder says he and his team-mates are striving to get their first league win under their belts having suffered five defeats from their opening six matches this season, the club’s solitary point coming in last month’s 1-1 draw with St Mirren in Paisley. And, although Hibs have enjoyed an upturn in fortunes in recent weeks, Gibbons is unfazed by whoever Stubbs opts to put out at Almondvale.
“I don’t really know too much about Hibs, to be honest and how they play,” Gibbons revealed. “They did have a bit of a slow start but have come on good in the last few weeks.
“But we are just concentrating on ourselves as we’re always confident and we know that we’ve got good quality in the changing room to get a result.
“I think some of the performances this year have been good and we’ve maybe just not got the rub of the green that we’ve deserved. But, over the course of the seaso,n we’re hoping it evens itself out.”
Gibbons was forced to settle for a place on the substitutes’ bench in last weekend’s 3-0 defeat at Ibrox, manager Mark Burchill favouring to go with the more experienced Hugo Faria in the central midfield role alongside Darren Cole. But that hasn’t deterred Gibbons from his desire to be given a start tomorrow.
“I’ve not had much experience of first-team football so this is all new to me as well,” he explained. “I think I’ve done quite well so far in adjusting from playing youth at Aberdeen to playing in the Championship. I just need to keep working hard and hopefully I can only get better.”