As one of the most promising young defenders in Scotland, Ryan Porteous is more than happy for any advice offered.
Team-mates like Efe Ambrose, Paul Hanlon and Darren McGregor have all played a part in the 19-year-old’s footballing education, Porteous grateful for every word of guidance.
But he found himself taken aback as Dundee striker Kenny Miller passed on a few tips following Hibs’ 2-2 draw with the Dens Park outfit.
It was the first time the Scotland Under-21 internationalist had played against the veteran striker, now less than a month away from his 39th birthday but continuing to defy the years as highlighted by the goal which hauled Dundee back into a match in which they had been trailing by 2-0.
Porteous said: “I’ve spoken before of why I think there’s no better place for a young defender than Easter Road with the team-mates I have around me.
“They are always there to help, but as I walked off the pitch on Saturday Kenny was telling me wee ways I could have done things differently, in how to deal with a switch of play at one point for example.
“You don’t expect something like that but those few words in my ear shows he wants to help young players, which is great.”
Porteous admitted that pitching himself against someone who started his own career at Easter Road before playing for Rangers, Wolves, Celtic, Derby, Cardiff City and further afield at Turkish club Bursapor, and Vancouver Whitecaps in Canada, not forgetting his 69 Scotland caps, had provided another invaluable lesson.
He said: “It was the first time I’d come up against him and although he’s twice my age you wouldn’t have thought it the way he played. He’s a great player, still doing it after all these years.
“I’d watched video of him, not that I needed to because I knew exactly the way he plays. He’s intelligent, he runs off you at times and he’s one of those players you have to be focused on for the full game. He still has that agility and speed which makes him look more like my age.
“I thought he’d end up hoarse the amount of shouting he was doing at his team-mates.
“It was good to get the experience of playing against him but I’m coming up against all sorts of different forwards in the Premiership, big Sofien Moussa who came on for Kenny, is a different player for example.”
Miller used all his experience to redirect a low cross from Nathan Ralph beyond Hibs goalkeeper Adam Bogdan just before half-time to give Dundee hope after a first minute own goal from Genseric Kusunga and Porteous’ towering header had seemingly put Neil Lennon’s players on the road to a much-needed victory.
And it was a lifeline the Tayside outfit seized, Paul McGowan taking advantage of further sloppy defending to haul them level.
Porteous said: “It should not be happening. We are 2-0 up with a minute to go in the first half. With the experience we have, the knowledge, the quality, we should be seeing it out to the interval.
“We could have done better to stop Ralph getting the cross in, maybe someone should have taken the foul. But when he gets it in at that speed and with someone like Kenny Miller in there then is always going to be a threat no matter how good your defenders are.
“Then we should know they have the momentum going into but they get the equaliser straight away. After that, though, I thought we were fine. We did well, we created chances but just didn’t get the break of the ball in the final third and maybe a couple of decisions.
“But when you are 2-0 up at home against a team at the bottom of the league – and it could have been three or four – you should be comfortably seeing the game out.”
Hibs, looking to end a run of four games without a win, had got off to the perfect start with that own goal, Kusunga stretching to intercept a Daryl Horgan cross before it could reach Jamie Maclaren only for the defender to glance the ball beyond his goalkeeper Jack Hamilton. Porteous then rose to power home Stevie Mallan’s free-kick after 30 minutes to give his team a comfortable cushion.
“That’s what happens when you put the ball into the box,” insisted Porteous. “We should have been doing that all game. Daryl’s put a dangerous ball in and if their player doesn’t get it then Jamie or Flo would have.
“We all know how good Stevie’s delivery is and when he put it up there six yards out I was always going to get my head on it. I felt I had let the boys down a bit against Aberdeen with my mistake so it was good to have contributed.
“We were in a good position so it was bitterly disappointing not to win.”