Hibs boss Alan Stubbs today insisted he would have no worries about pitching rookie goalkeeper Kleton Perntreou into Saturday’s crunch Championship clash with Queen of the South.
The 19-year-old was given a surprise debut, given only minute’s notice, after first-choice goalie Mark Oxley was forced off at half-time against Cowdenbeath having suffered a back injury in a challenge with Blue Brazil forward Kudus Oyenuga.
Oxley’s back stiffened up during the interval and rather than take a risk with Hibs leading 2-0, Albania-born Perntreou, pictured, took over. Although Jon Robertson pulled one back for the Fife club, Stubbs admitted he had been delighted with the youngster’s performance.
Oxley has shown signs of improvement after reporting back for training with his team-mates, but it is far from certain as to whether the on-loan Hull City player will be fit to face Queens in a match which, should Hibs win by two goals or more, will see them leapfrog their visitors into third place in the table.
The Hibs boss does have Alan Combe available, the club’s goalkeeping coach having also registered as a player at the age of 40, but Stubbs would have no concern in giving Perntreou his first start. He said: “Mark’s back has settled down a little bit which we are quite happy about but sometimes these things can clear up quite quickly or take a bit longer.
“If we have to play Kleton then that’s what we will do, I’d have total confidence in him. You like goalkeepers to be a little bit more experienced, but sometimes it’s that sink or swim decision. Sometimes they can surprise you and do really well.
“We are confident Kleton is going to be a good goalkeeper, he just needs to keep working and when these opportunities come to take them. I think he was understandably a bit nervous as it all happened quite quickly and he only had a short time to get ready. The ten outfield players looked to give him as much protection as possible and while there were things I am sure he would have liked to have done better, he did all he had to do and that’s all you can ask.”
As to the prospect of Hibs perhaps overhauling Saturday’s opponents, Stubbs added: “The most important thing is just winning. It would be great to climb a place but as long as we win. And, as I have said previously, league position doesn’t bother me at the moment. Our focus is on playing well, putting in performances and that’s what we are doing.”