Hibs new boy Kyle McClelland targeting Northern Ireland recall as he hails Ryan Porteous guidance
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The 20-year-old centre-back made the trip along the M8 earlier this summer, leaving Rangers after 13 years in the search for first-team football and while he was signed as a development player for the Capital club, his performances with the senior squad in Portugal have caught the eye.
“The plan was to do pre-season with the first team and see how I get on. The majority of last year, I was with the Rangers B team and didn’t really get the sniff of the first team I’d wanted,” McClelland said at Hibs’ summer training camp in the Algarve.
"Coming here for pre-season with a lot of experienced players has been beneficial for me and it’s what I need at my age.
"It’ll push me on as a player and as a man and mature me which will help me a lot.”
Porteous may only be a couple of years older than his colleague but has more than 130 games under his belt for Hibs and McClelland is keen to learn from a player with that amount of experience.
"In my first week in Ryan made me feel very welcome. I trained beside him in the first session and he spoke to me right the way through the training session,” he added.
"In those two days, I learned quite a lot from him. He’s a great speaker on the park and that’s what you want beside you. I can learn a lot from him in the space of a short time.
"I think it’s very good for me to have someone like Porteous beside me.”
As well as working alongside Porteous, McClelland can look forward to learning from Easter Road veterans Paul Hanlon and Darren McGregor as well as first-team coach David Gray and the rest of the management team.
"I’ve found them absolutely brilliant. They’ve been great with me since I walked through the door,” he added.
"They have made me feel very welcome and they’ve spoken to me a lot. I’ve done extra after training with them and it’s helped me a lot.
“It’s a new thing for me, coming into a new club. I’ve never done it before but it’s been very warm.”
He also harbours hopes of forcing his way into Ian Baraclough’s Northern Ireland plans, having featured at under-21 level. The national team manager watched McClelland playing for Rangers B against Broomhill last season and although the left-sided centre-half stepped back from international football in order to complete his move to Edinburgh, he is eager to put in performances on the park for Hibs that can secure him a return to the Northern Ireland fold.
"As long as do everything I can on the pitch and hopefully Ian Baraclough comes and watches some games. Hopefully I can get more caps.
"I took time away from international football to try and get things sorted out club-wise and I think now I’ve got a clear mind I’m ready to get back into squads.”