Hibs youngster celebrates new deal - and is challenged to stay hungry
Teen sensation only turned pro in summer - now he's broken into senior squad
Hibs wunderkind Josh Landers has been handed a new three-year contract - just over a week on from making his first-team debut.
The 16-year-old forward’s meteoric rise through the ranks, consistently playing several age grades up in domestic and European competition, is reflected in the fact that he’s being tied down to a long-term deal less than three months after signing his first professional contract.
Former Peebles High School pupil Landers was just 14 when he scored his first goal for the Under-18s – and played in the UEFA Youth League not long after his 15th birthday.
The youngster, who has been in the Hibs system from the age of 10, made his first appearance for the senior side when he came off the bench to replace Dylan Vente late in the 1-0 Viaplay Cup semi-final loss to Aberdeen.
With Adam Le Fondre and Christian Doidge both unavailable, the striker also got a late run-out in last Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw with St Mirren in Paisley, and he was on the bench – but unused – in the weekend win over Kilmarnock.
Head coach Nick Montgomery, having already fast-tracked fullback Rory Whittaker into the first team set-up, has been impressed with Landers’ efforts in training and limited game time.
The attacker – capped eight times for Scotland Under-16s - was involved in last season’s UEFA Youth League heroics, as Hibs saw off Molde and Nantes before suffering a narrow defeat to German giants Borussia Dortmund.
Academy director Gareth Evans, who has now seen Landers follow Whittaker with a quick promotion to the first team, said: “We’re all delighted for Josh. I’m sure this is a very proud moment for him and his family.
“It’s always great to see a young player progress through the academy age groups and make their debut for the first team. The real challenge for Josh now is to keep that hunger and desire to develop and to push for more opportunities with the first team set-up.”