Alan Stubbs has assured Matt Kennedy that he remains prominent in his thoughts as he indicated a desire to extend the Everton winger’s stint at Hibs beyond January.
The 20-year-old has made only five starts since arriving at Easter Road on a six-month loan deal in the summer, with the last of them coming in the 1-0 defeat at Queen of the South six weeks ago. After becoming a marginal figure as Hibs embarked on an improved run of form without conventional wingers in a 3-5-2 and then a 4-3-1-2 formation, the former Kilmarnock youngster was finally able to remind supporters of his quality when he made a major impact as a substitute in last week’s League Cup quarter-final thriller at home to Dundee United.
Kennedy scored Hibs’ third equaliser – his first for the club – in the 3-3 draw with the Tannadice side before suffering the heartache of missing a penalty in the shootout as United progressed to the semi-finals.
Stubbs admits the youngster has suffered as a result of his decision to play without wingers over the past month and a half, but insisted he still views him as an integral member of the squad.
“Matty’s had the impact that I knew he would when I brought him here,” Stubbs told the Evening News. “He’s done really since he came and he’s been really unlucky not to be in the team more often. We changed the formation to one which didn’t incorporate Matty – we felt it wouldn’t see the best of him, which is why he hasn’t started so much lately.
“But he was smashing against Dundee United. When he came on, we changed to 4-3-3 with him and Jason Cummings out wide and he had a real effect.
“I was proud of him taking a penalty. He’s a young lad and even though his kick was saved, he’ll learn from it.
“I’ve said to him all along, ‘Wait for your chance and when you get it, take it’. I know he will because he’s got ability.”
Kennedy’s loan deal expires at the turn of the year, but Stubbs, a former Everton player and coach, is hopeful that his old club will allow the Scotland Under-21 cap to prolong his stay.
“He’s here until January, but if there’s a possibility of sorting something else out with him, we’d obviously be interested,” said the head coach. “He’s a good option to bring off the bench, but I don’t see him just as a bench player. He’s got attributes that others haven’t got but there are certain elements that he knows he has to work on to improve.”