Hibs captain's message for highly-rated youngsters as he highlights John McGinn route
David Gray has stressed the importance of happiness for footballers as England’s big clubs circle over Hibs’ crop of talented youngsters.
Striker Kevin Nisbet and defender Ryan Porteous were the subject of interest from Birmingham and Millwall respectively in January, while 18-year-old Josh Doig has had countless suitors as he take the Scottish Premiership by storm in his debut season.
Under-18 prospects Murray Johnson and Ethan Laidlaw, who was named in the first-team squad for the first time last weekend against Rangers, have also attracted interest from clubs including Leeds United, Wolves, Manchester City, and Manchester United.
The Hibs captain made his own move from Hearts to Manchester United as a 16-year-old and while he insists he has no regrets over his decision, he warned the Easter Road side’s youngsters that the grass may not always be greener.
Speaking ahead of the Scottish Cup trip to Stranraer Gray said: “I think if the opportunity comes, it’s because they are doing something very right at the minute.
“Ryan and Josh have both had fantastic seasons. It’s their first proper season of first-team football where they’ve been playing consistently and that’s credit to them for having kept that consistency of performance, especially Josh at his age coming into the first-team.
“Sometimes an opportunity comes up that’s sometimes too good to turn down but, at the same time, the most important thing is that you need to play.
“My advice would always be that if everything in the move is right for you, are you going to get game time?
“It’s the most enjoyable thing. You’ll get more out of it if you’re playing.”
Gray has been in the game long enough to know that youngsters who perform at a consistently high level will always attract interest, but he feels Hibs has a lot to offer the in-demand kids.
He continued: “The longer they stay at the club, I’m sure the timing will be right if they do move on.
"If they keep doing what they do then I’m sure clubs will come in for them, because they’re both fantastic players.
"The most important part is to concentrate on playing and focus on being happy. As long as the young boys are happy and are where they want to be, and they give everything they possibly can, the opportunities will come.
“That Manchester United are interested in Ethan is great but at the same time Hibs is a fantastic place to be and if you manage to get yourself in the first team, there are opportunities that can come from that as well. There's more than one way to make your way in the game.
"John McGinn came to Hibs, did fantastically well, and now he's one of Scotland's best players doing well in the Premier League, so there's lots of different ways of doing it.
"The most important thing is making a decision where you know you're going to be happy, you know you're going to be valued, and you know you're going to play.
"Just because you move somewhere at 16, 18, 23 – regardless what age, you need to work as hard as you can. It's never just given to you. If you think you're doing well, and you stand still in football, everything else will catch up with you.”