Ethan Laidlaw at Liverpool: How highly-rated Hibs kid fared during trial spell
Not long turned 16, still to make a senior appearance for Hibs, but already on the radar of some of England’s Premier League clubs.
Ethan Laidlaw might still be in his mid-teens but there is a buzz about the forward who has been an unused substitute three times for the Easter Road first team.
Hibs are understood to have already turned down an approach from Leeds United, who took the youngster on trial in March.
Manchester United and Chelsea are also said to be keen, while the teen recently completed a two-week trial with Liverpool.
While playing with the Anfield side’s Under-17 team, Laidlaw netted two in two games against Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
There is understandably a lot of excitement about the young forward, whose technique and ability belies his tender years. Easter Road chiefs view Laidlaw as the club’s most talented young player at his age level at this moment in time.
In the Evening News’ recent Big Hibs Survey, around one third of respondents picked Laidlaw as the young player they would most like to see get a chance next season – ahead of Connor Young and Josh O’Connor who scored 18 goals between them for the Under-18s; winger Stevie Bradley who made four appearances last term, and current first-team goalkeeper Kevin Dabrowski.
It is likely that Laidlaw will embark on further trial spells – because it’s included in the professional contract he signed earlier this year.
What have Hibs said about the player?
"If I send Ethan to train with another club, I’m doing so because I have agreed to allow him to experience training opportunities at other clubs,” Hibs’ Sporting Director Graeme Mathie told the Evening News in April.
"I have no interest in selling him at all. None. Because I think he's got an opportunity to progress at our club.
"He’s far better off staying at Hibs with a pathway to the first team than he is going somewhere else and messing about playing youth team football.
"It’s not for me to tell a family or a young child what they can and can't do but I would always paint a picture: don't mither to go and become a youth team player somewhere else before you really consider what you're signing up for.
"And that’s where we’re at with Ethan.
"He is a player who we think is going to go into the first team. And if he does, it's an entirely different conversation.”
Laidlaw's inclusion in first-team squads towards the end of the season, coupled with Josh Doig's breakout campaign and first-team debuts for Stevie Bradley and Ryan Shanley suggest that it is worth youngsters furthering their development at Easter Road before seeking a move elsewhere.
Mathie continued: “Jack [Ross] putting Ethan on the bench and Josh Doig in the team this year shows me that we do, so I can say with hand on heart that it's part of the conversation, and part of the decision-making.
"I can tell those youngsters: ‘you're at a club that does value young players coming through, and we'll create a pathway and an opportunity for you to do that’.”
Before any further trials in England or first-team experience at Hibs, Laidlaw’s next step could be at Airdrie’s ground, where his school team will contest the Under-16 Scottish Cup final on Tuesday.