'It's not all bullies...' - I was wrong about 'quality' Scottish football, admits Hibs loanee

CJ Egan-Riley has admitted he was wrong about Scottish football – with the Hibs loanee agreeing that there is a skewed view in England of the game north of the Border.
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The versatile Burnley man has become a key player for Hibs, operating at right-back, centre-back, and defensive midfield since arriving on a half-season loan from Turf Moor in January and helping the side to climb the table and embark on a seven-game unbeaten run that ended with last midweek’s 4-1 defeat by Rangers.

Speaking earlier this week Hearts defender Toby Sibbick, who played for AFC Wimbledon and Barnsley before making a permanent move to Tynecastle, insisted that people in England should ‘do some education’ and get out of the mindset that Scottish football is a poor product.

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Egan-Riley’s comments mirrored those of his Gorgie counterpart as he recalled growing up in Lancashire with the belief that the football on offer a couple of hundred miles north was of an agricultural type.

CJ Egan-Riley admitted to being surprised by Scottish footballCJ Egan-Riley admitted to being surprised by Scottish football
CJ Egan-Riley admitted to being surprised by Scottish football

"Growing up [in England] all you hear is that Scottish football is rough and there are bullies – and there are, but there are also players with quality,” he said, previewing the trip to face Celtic on cinch Premiership duty.

"I didn't fully expect that. Even in the Hibs team there are players with real quality who can do something in the moment and really look after the ball, and have moments of brilliance, so it's great that it's not just all bullies like I always thought it would be.”

The 20-year-old believes he is progressing at Hibs although like all good footballers he knows that there are still areas that need improvement. Coming up through the ranks at Manchester City before moving to Burnley under ex-Citizens captain Vincent Kompany, he has had a good grounding – but nothing can replace regular games at his age.

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"I'm learning things, I'm getting more comfortable each week and with each game. There are still things I need to work on, and I'm still watching my clips and taking on information from everyone but I feel like even in the few games I've been here I've shown my quality and there's still more I want to show. I'm sure that will come because there are still quite a few games to play starting with Saturday.”

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