Hibs won’t try to curb Ryan Porteous
Robbie Stockdale has insisted Hibs have no intention of trying to change the way Ryan Porteous plays despite the Scotland Under-21 defender being sent off in the Betfred Cup win over Kilmarnock.
Porteous was shown a straight red by referee Willie Collum for scything down Killie winger Liam Murray late into extra-time at Rugby Park but, claimed Stockdale, there were worse challenges in the game.
After he and Paul Heckingbottom reviewed the incident, they decided not to appeal the sending off, meaning Porteous misses today’s Premiership clash with champions Celtic, but the assistant head coach insisted it was a foolish challenge rather than one intent on hurting his opponent.
Wednesday night’s match was only Porteous’ third since recovering from knee surgery eight months ago before the new management team was put in place.
And, revealed Stockdale, he and Heckingbottom were just beginning to fully appreciate the youngster’s qualities. He said; ”This is actually the first time Ryan has been available to Paul and myself.
“We watched all the clips and spoke to people and he is actually a really good player. He has the potential to be a top player. Ryan has to learn and he may feel that he has to put his stamp on the game.
“We don’t want to take that aggressive streak away from his game but he has to learn to channel that aggression in the right way and be cuter.
“It is a tough position that he plays in. It comes down to inexperience, too, sometimes. Being a central defender you don’t know the game until you are in your 20s, players at the top learn how to read the game then.
“That is part of the learning curve for him and he will get it because he is a bright boy and we believe he will be a top player. The disappointment for him is that having just got into the team he will miss out against Celtic.”
Although at the time Heckingbottom insisted he had no complaints at Porteous being sent off, Stockdale revealed they’d had second thoughts about the decision.
He said: “At the time, I thought it was a really bad tackle. We’ve looked at it on video from different angles and it’s not half as bad as we thought. Honestly, there were worse tackles in the game that got yellows. Tackles that could injure people.
“So we take it on the chin. We’ve spoken to Ryan about it before, it’s part of his learning curve. But I don’t think it was a tackle that was going to hurt somebody. It was a foolish incident.”
Meanwhile, Stockdale admitted having the Betfred Cup semi-final against Celtic played at Hampden on Saturday, November 2, at 5.30 pm “wasn’t ideal,” but added: “We don’t have a say in when it is played.
“You get the time, you get the day, you prepare the players as well as you can. I could sit here and complain about it - what use is that going to do?
“It’s the same for both clubs, it’s a long way down the line, so we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
And he insisted today’s meeting with Celtic wasn’t a dress rehearsal for the semi-final but a chance to gauge where Hibs are against the best team in Scotland.