Neil Lennon hailed teenager Fraser Murray after he marked his Hibs debut with a goal and an assured performance in yesterday’s 3-0 victory away to Turriff United in the Irn-Bru Cup.
After impressing in the development team in recent weeks, the 17-year-old midfielder from Baillieston was the youngest, least-recognised face included in a much-changed but relatively experienced starting XI at The Haughs.
Lennon was encouraged by the manner in which Murray, who scored Hibs’ opener in a routine third-round win, acquitted himself, and believes he has “half a chance” of progressing to the first team on a more regular basis in the future.
“It was great for young Fraser to get a goal on his debut,” the manager told the Evening News. “We’ve watched him at Under-20 level a couple of times and he’s caught the eye, so we’ve had him training with the first team on a number of occasions. He’s a good footballer, very good with both feet. He could do with a bit of meat on him but that’ll come as he gets older. He’s confident on the ball and he’s a decent athlete as well. We think he’s got half a chance.”
Another player who impressed Lennon yesterday was striker Brian Graham, who headed his second goal in three appearances since joining from Ross County. In total he has already scored eight goals this term, heightening the manager’s belief that he has pulled off a coup by bringing him to Easter Road.
“I think I’ve got an outstanding centre-forward in Brian,” he said. “He’s got the knack of being a prolific header of the ball and he scores lots of goals. I think he’ll be a real asset for us.”
Lennon made eight changes to the side that started the 4-0 win over Morton in the Championship eight days earlier and was thrilled with the way his selection performed against their Highland League hosts.
“It was good for players like Jordon Forster, Dylan McGeouch, Fraser Fyvie and Martin Boyle to get game time,” he said. “These boys needed games, so it’s been a very worthwhile exercise. We were outstanding in the first half and their goalkeeper made some great saves. In the second half, Turriff didn’t come out as much and were a bit harder to break down, so we decided to go more direct towards Brian, but we got the third goal. All in all, it was a very good day.”
Turriff manager Ross Jack admitted his side were subjected to an intense test from Hibs, but he was encouraged by the way they competed. “Neil’s a clever manager – he was never going to put out a team that he thought might get done,” said Jack. “The Hibs team was strong and experienced with some quality young boys mixed in.
“We got the runaround in the first half especially, but we sorted things out a bit more in the second half. Our goalkeeper was outstanding. It was a great lesson for us but we didn’t disgrace ourselves in any way.”