Hibs defender Paul Hanlon tipped for Scotland call-up
Lewis Stevenson believes Hibs return to the Premiership will lead to Easter Road team-mate Paul Hanlon becoming a Scotland regular.
And he claimed only the fact the Capital club had spent the past three seasons in the Championship had prevented the Scotland Under-21 captain from earning a full cap.
But now, with the hunt on for a new national manager following Gordon Strachan’s departure and the probable rebuilding of the squad for the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, Stevenson is adamant 27-year-old central defender Hanlon can’t be overlooked.
He said: “Paul has been immense this season. I think we are lucky to have kept him so long as I am sure there have been plenty of clubs interested in him. But he’s chosen to stick with us and now we are back in the Premiership I am sure he will start to get noticed.”
Hanlon won 23 caps for Scotland Under-21s, captaining the side on numerous occasions, and Stevenson admitted he felt then it was only a matter of time before he moved into the full squad.
“I’ve been saying for years he’s more than capable of playing for Scotland,” he said. “I thought with the number of caps he got for the under-21s it would be inevitable.
“However, Hibs being in the Championship has probably been detrimental to him, it’s maybe been easier to overlook him and say he wasn’t playing at high enough a level. Perhaps that has worked against him, but as far as I am concerned, if he’d been playing in the Premiership it would have definitely happened by now.
“I’d say Paul is hitting the peak years of his career, he has more than 300 games for Hibs under his belt and as a centre-half he has another six or seven years in him, he’s a fit guy and has all the tools for the job. Paul isn’t one for getting carried away, but for me it is just a matter of time.
“As a friend, colleague and Scotland fan I’m sure he’d do a good job for the country.”
Stevenson believes the appointment of a new Scotland coach will lead to a shake-up of Strachan’s squad, opening the door for Hanlon and others to stake their claim.
He said: “I think as soon as he is in the squad for the first time and the new manager, whoever that is going to be, gets a good look at him then that will be him set. I’ve been saying it for years, it’s not happened, but I’m sure by the end of this season he’ll get his chance.”