The last ten days have been good to Edinburgh City defender Ryan Porteous.
A week past Tuesday, the on-loan Hibs defender played as Gary Jardine’s team left Central Park with a vital 2-1 victory over bottom club Cowdenbeath to open up a seven-point gap at the foot of the Ladbrokes League Two table.
To round off the week, he was called up to the Scotland Under-19 squad for their upcoming European Championship Elite Round. Ricky Sbragia’s squad will face Austria, Hungary and group hosts the Czech Republic from March 22-27.
Porteous has impressed at the heart of the City defence since joining on a development loan in the summer, and had credited his time in black and white as the reason international recognition has come his way.
“The call-up was a bit of a surprise, to be honest,” said the 17-year-old. “It’s the first time I’ve been involved, but a few of the lads have told me I’ve deserved it since so I must be doing something right. I’ve never been called up by Scotland at any level before, which makes it more of a shock.
“I can’t thank Edinburgh City and Gary Jardine enough. They’ve given me the opportunity to come and play regularly at a young age and it makes a massive difference. You look at some guys in the squad from Celtic and Rangers and they’re maybe not all playing every week even at development level, or out at clubs on loan, so the move to Edinburgh City has been great in the sense.”
Porteous’ performances have belied his age, the centre-back often dominating wily strikers with a wealth of lower league experience behind them. He believes learning that side of the game, along with the pressure of a relegation fight, can only benefit him long term. “Pressure is good,” he said. “At Hibs you learn how to play, at City you learn how win. You’re playing with guys who are relying on you, in front of fans who are relying on you. I can always go back to training with Hibs during the day, but this is these guys’ lives, that’s what they play for and you don’t want to let them down.
“The part of my game I’m probably known for is getting torn right in. There are players at Hibs who are probably better on the ball than me, but I’m out playing in big games against players who really test you physically, and that’s the side of the game you really learn. The next step is to combine that, be it at this level or wherever, with playing and keep developing.
“It’s different in that at City you play when you can, but first and foremost Gary wants me to defend. At Hibs, they always look to play from the back, so I need to change my approach between development games and City games, but that’s good for me.”
The Easter Road side clearly see Porteous as a potential first-team player, and handed him a new five-year deal earlier this year. While obviously delighted to commit his future, he isn’t resting on his laurels.
“It’s obviously good to have that security,” he said of his new deal. “But I want to keep playing. You can sign a five year deal and then still be a development player the whole time. I need to keep playing competitively on a regular basis. Eddie [May, Hibs academy manager] has said that to me as well so I need to keep working hard and developing.”
Shorter term, City travel to league leaders Forfar tomorrow hoping to further boost their chances of survival. With Hibs also top of the SPFL Development League, Porteous is eyeing a unique double. “That would be the dream,” he said. “No-one can go above us at the moment in the Development League, but it’s tight and there’s still about nine games to go. It would be good to do both, but I’d definitely say staying up with City would be the bigger achievement – it would mean so much to the club.”