Daryl Horgan gives lowdown on rising stars at Hibs
Hibs’ pre-season matches have given fans the opportunity to have a look at head coach Paul Heckingbottom’s summer signings but, insisted Daryl Horgan, the game against Arbroath and Dunfermline have allowed them a glimpse further into the future.
No doubt supporters have paid plenty of attention to the newcomers in Christian Doidge, Joe Newell, Adam Jackson, Tom James, Chris Maxwell and, of course, the returning Scott Allan as all six are set to play prominent roles in the coming season.
All have been allocated their squad number, some based on personal preference, but over the course of the past week at Gayfield Park and East End Park, a string of jerseys carrying 42, 43, 44 and 45 have been spotted.
Sporting 43 on his back, Sean Mackie has become a familiar figure, the 20-year-old clocking up 12 appearances last season as he began to force his way into the first-team squad, a feat which has been rewarded with a two-year contract extension.
Less has been seen of No.42 Ben Stirling, No.44 Kosivar Sadiki and No.45 Josh Campbell, but Horgan believes their presence shows that Hibs renowned youth academy is continuing to produce plenty of home-grown talent, young players hoping to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Lewis Stevenson, Paul Hanlon, Ryan Porteous, Oli Shaw, Fraser Murray and Mackie.
“The young lads are all doing really well,” said Republic of Ireland internationalist Horgan. “As we all know, there’s a really good youth set-up at the club which is really positive going forward.
“Fans love seeing their own coming through and it will be up to these boys and others to push their way into the squad on a regular basis.
“There’s great competition for places throughout the squad. Recruitment has been very good and it’s been great to have so many in so early in pre-season, which means the squad is shaping up well.
“But these are all good young players who have been deserving of the jersey in pre-season and if they can keep gonig as they are then I am sure they will all have a chance.”
Those opportunities may lessen once Heckingbottom can call upon his full squad when the serious action begins, but his determination that promising youngsters won’t have their path to the first team blocked was evident by the appearance of 17-year-old Josh Doig for the final five minutes against the Pars.
Previously with Hearts, Portobello High School pupil Doig has barely been at Easter Road for five weeks but, insisted Horgan, he’s already showing plenty of promise.
He said: “Josh trained with the squad for a couple of days and looked very comfortable on the ball. He came on at left back but can also play centre-back and while it might only have been a few minutes in a friendly, it’s still his first senior game and a moment for him to remember.”