Hibs stars snubbed for international duty - but that's a good thing right now

Hibs defenders Paul Hanlon and Ryan Porteous during a Scotland training session last month.Hibs defenders Paul Hanlon and Ryan Porteous during a Scotland training session last month.
Hibs defenders Paul Hanlon and Ryan Porteous during a Scotland training session last month.
The news that Scotland boss Steve Clarke has, for now, opted to tackle the crucial Euros play-off final without any Hibs players will be a disappointment to the individuals he drafted into the set-up last month.

It also signals the need for greater patience from Kevin Nisbet, who will not have been deaf to the chatter linking him with imminent involvement in the national squad. However, it will be helpful to their club manager, Jack Ross, who was left with the bare bones of his player pack during last month’s international break.

Pride and delight for guys like Ryan Porteous, Paul Hanlon and Paul McGinn must have tempered, professionally at least, with a frustration at the paucity of options and numbers available to him when putting on training sessions and when trying to negotiate the Betfred Cup group games.

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Down to bare bones

The drain of players to the full Scotland set-up was exacerbated by the absence of Josh Doig to Billy Stark’s Under-19 squad, Ofir Marciano, who was, as usual, on duty with Israel, and Alex Gogic, who was achieving his goal of representing Cyprus.

This season, the decision was taken to run with a smaller squad - choosing quality over quantity - as they try to keep the books balanced and although the recognition of his players’ calibre was pleasing and was an acknowledgement of their decent club displays and the Easter Road side’s early season form, things were stretched thinly last month, with injuries then adding to the difficulty Ross had in even filling up substitute bench at Forfar.

Porteous has been named in Under-21 squad but with fewer Scotland call-ups this time around and Jamie Murphy and Drey Wright – and Lewis Stevenson working his way back to full fitness – injuries are also less of an issue. That gives the Leith gaffer the welcome opportunity to work with a greater percentage of his squad next week ahead of their final Betfred Cup group game against main rivals Dundee and then their return to league action with a head-to-head with defending champions Celtic.

More than a quarter of the way through the league campaign, the disappointment of losing the 2020 Scottish Cup semi-final will only have galvanised Hibs’ desire to do better in this term’s version of the tournament, as well as the Betfred Cup.

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The race for third place is now close, with Aberdeen keen to dislodge Hibs this Friday.

More time to prepare

The hard work conducted in pre-season has been paying off so, having the opportunity to build on that with the option of an unbroken week of training and analysis, or simply making use of the downtime to recharge, could give them the fresh impetus they need to face the next phase of the season re-invigorated, retuned and with renewed focus.

Ross has said he would never stand in the way of his players’ international ambitions and is thrilled to see them recognised and while some will be waiting by the phone, hoping for another late call up, this time at least, it may not be a disaster for Hibs if that SOS never comes.

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