Brandon Barker: Lennon's faith has brought best out of me
Brandon Barker has revealed that the belief Hibs boss Neil Lennon has shown in him is beginning to bring out his best form.
The on-loan Manchester City winger has already become a firm favourite with the Easter Road support thanks to his blistering pace, a directness and a willingness to take on defenders.
And that, he believes, is down to the encouragement given by Lennon, who failed in a previous bid to sign Barker when he was manager of Bolton Wanderers.
The 21-year-old said: “He’s shown belief in me and that’s what I need as a player. I am a confidence player, if I’m being honest.
“He has one thought on his mind when I am on the ball and so do I. He just wants me to run at players, that’s what I can offer to the team and I am just going to keep doing that over and over again. I’m not going to get frustrated if it does not come off.”
The pace of 21-year-old Barker on one flank and that of Martin Boyle on the other has been a huge factor in Hibs clocking up three successive wins to haul themselves into third place in the Premiership table, their ability to torment the opposition full-backs all too evident in the first Edinburgh derby of the season.
“The derby was class,” beamed Barker. “From minute one you didn’t need any motivation and when the goal went in it was such a good feeling. In my opinion 1-0 flattered them, I thought we dominated them although there were times when they could have easily scored because they are a good team.
“It was just a fantastic experience and the song at the end [Sunshine on Leith] was so touching to me given it was my first time and my family was there.”
Football gossip has it that Barker could have been pulling on a maroon jersey that night although both the player and Lennon professed to knowing nothing of it.
Barker said: “I don’t think I was offered directly to Hearts. I think I was offered to every club in Scotland and Hibs was the team that picked up on me.”
If his move was, as he says, something of a lottery, the England Under-20 cap insisted he’s landed on his feet.
He said: “When you are deciding to go on loan you can’t just rush in to things.
“I spoke to the manger and people told me abut Hibs. They told me they like to play and the players they have are all technical players .
“After my first training session I knew straight away that I would be able to do the things that I can do. The boys are different class and there are some top, top players in the team.
“I have to admit I didn’t know a lot before I came here. My agent is from Edinburgh so he told me it was a great club and people from City told me it was a great club.
“My friend [Ashley Smith-Brown also on loan from City] plays for Hearts and he said Hibs are the rivals. When I found out that Neil Lennon was the manager that was a big factor as well.
“But then I came here and saw the training ground. I was shocked, if I’m being honest. It’s an amazing place and a lot better than some clubs in England and some clubs I’ve been at before. I’m lucky to be here.”
Barker’s Easter Road career comes full circle today with Dundee the visitors to the Capital, his first start in green and white having come in a 1-1 draw at Dens Park.
He recalled: “I have a lot of memories because it was my first time playing after a longtime out. It was a good game and I strongly believe we should have won it.
“I’d been out for about seven months which isn’t good for a young player but I seem to be over the niggles now.”
• Hibs are working with To Absent Friends to give supporters the chance at the upcoming matches against Dundee today and St Johnstone on November 18 to pay tribute to their late loved ones. Absent Friends pages will be available in the home stand concourses for supporters to write their messages of remembrance, or photo tribute. The pages – produced with the support of Paramount Printers – will also be available for those unable to make matchdays in the ticket office and clubstore.