Marvin Bartley has been backed to establish himself as one of the top midfield enforcers in Scotland when Hibs return to the Premiership next season.
The 30-year-old former Bournemouth, Burnley and Leyton Orient anchorman recently signed a new two-year deal at Easter Road at the end of a campaign in which he regularly stood out in the most high-profile matches. Ex-Hibs winger Michael Weir described Bartley as the team’s key performer during their Championship-winning season in his Evening News column earlier this month, and John Doolan, the club’s former first-team coach, reckons retaining the bustling Englishman will prove to be one of Neil Lennon’s best pieces of business this summer.
“It’s brilliant for Hibs that Marvin’s re-signed because he brings so much to the table, on and off the pitch,” Doolan told the Evening News. “He’s a massive player for the club. He’s ready-made for the Premiership. He’s already shown how good he can be against Premiership teams in the cup games.
“He sticks out in the big games because he’s a big-game player. He’s played in a lot of big games down south, so he has the experience to deal with big-game situations. He’s played at a higher level than most of the other Hibs players. They’re all big games in the Premiership, and he’s shown he can handle them.”
Doolan worked closely with Bartley for a season after Alan Stubbs signed him two years ago and continued to follow his progress from afar last term. The Liverpudlian coach believes the combative midfielder is one of the key members of the Hibs squad, even though his destructive work isn’t always universally noticed.
“Marv knows what he’s got in his locker, and does all that really well, and he knows his limitations,” said Doolan. “Sometimes what he does goes unnoticed, but I notice 100 per cent what he does every time he pulls on a Hibs shirt. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time, he breaks a lot of counter-attacks up, he wins the ball and passes it on.
“He doesn’t over-complicate things, he likes to keep it simple. He adds physicality and stature to the team.
“He’ll be the first to admit he’s not technically gifted. Me and him used to have a chuckle in training when I had him doing inside and outside turns because he’d end up standing on the ball or whatever.
“He’d laugh about it and say ‘that’s not my game, John’ but I’d say ‘Marv, you never know, you might need these’. And there were a few times in games where he pulled off a move to get himself away from situations, and we had a wee giggle about that.”
Doolan expects Bartley’s experience and leadership to be of major benefit to Hibs when they step up to the top flight after a three-year absence.
“As well as being a top player, Marv’s a top lad,” he said. “He’s got a great character with a great manner about him. He’s great round the training ground with his team-mates and then he contributes for the team with what he does on the pitch.
“He trains at 100 per cent. As a coach, he’s a joy to train. He’s got a good way about him on the training ground. His character’s great. He sets the standard in training and he’ll give someone a lift if they’re not pulling their weight.”