Sylvester Jasper: Early days but youngster can help fill the Martin Boyle void for Hibs

Given his upbringing in the north-east and his time in the lower leagues of Scottish football Martin Boyle would probably have taken to Hibs’ cup tie at Gayfield like a duck to water.

But instead of battling the elements and the North Sea spray, he is basking in 20° heat and helping Al-Faisaly out of the Saudi Premier League relegation zone.

Meanwhile his replacement, of sorts, Sylvester Jasper was handed his first start in the driving rain on a grey Sunday lunchtime in Angus.

Hide Ad

Signed at the last possible moment in the January transfer window from Fulham, Bulgarian Under-21 cap Jasper was given his first taste of Scottish Premiership football in the 1-0 defeat by St Mirren before an earlier-than-expected introduction against Rangers at Ibrox as he replaced the injured Paul McGinn after 12 minutes.

Hibs attacker Sylvester Jasper gives Chris Hamilton of Arbroath the slip at Gayfield

During his 99 combined minutes of league action Jasper has shown glimpses of why Hibs worked so hard to bring him in before the deadline.

Against St Mirren there were darting runs in the final third and movement into pockets of space. In Govan he had a late curling shot from outside the area that had Allan McGregor scrambling to tip it over, and his pace caused Borna Barisic countless problems at left-back.

Hide Ad

His 65 minutes against Arbroath yielded neither goal nor assist but he put in a lively display and can be happy with his contribution.

From League Two to Premiership

Hide Ad

Jasper is an exciting player who, despite limited gametime so far, is showing no signs of struggling with the step up from England’s fourth tier to the Scottish top flight. There are obvious comparisons to be made between Chris Mueller and Boyle but in Jasper Hibs may just have unearthed an attacker who can replicate one part of the Australian internationalist’s game: striking fear into defenders.

While Boyle was a threat with the ball on the wing or in front of goal, he also had a knack of putting the frighteners on full-backs tasked with stopping him en route to goal. Jasper has just about shown enough in his brief time on the pitch to suggest that he may be able to do the same.

Hide Ad

Maloney on Jasper

Maloney views Jasper as a creative, pacy player capable of operating on both flanks and while he didn’t want to burden the 20-year-old with expectations of him replacing the talismanic Boyle, he believes the youngster possesses similar qualities.

Hide Ad

“With Martin leaving halfway through the window, it wasn't really planned, and trying to adapt wasn't easy,” he told the Evening News.

"Football doesn't stand still if you lose your best, or most attacking player. We had to find a way to try to replace those attributes.

Hide Ad

"I wouldn't want to put too much pressure on a very young player but Sylvester has similar attributes at times.”

One Boyle, many replacements?

Hide Ad

It would seem unfair to heap pressure on one player as “Boyle’s replacement” and in Jasper, Mueller, Chris Cadden, and Demi Mitchell Hibs have four players capable of providing pace and trickery down the wings.

Credit to Hibs for not simply trying to find a like-for-like replacement, although Maloney did stress that, given the forward’s attributes, finding Boyle mk ii would be a nigh-on impossible task.

Hide Ad

Instead they have adapted, and evolved – and Jasper looks like playing a big role in the final third going forward.

Message from the editor

Hide Ad

Thank you for reading this article. If you haven't already, please consider supporting our sports coverage with a digital sports subscription.