Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom urges kids to step up while squad is depleted
Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom has told the club’s youngsters to seize the moment, with the first-team squad shorn of many experienced players.
The Capital outfit are currently without the injured Martin Boyle, Ryan Gauld, Ryan Porteous, Steven Whittaker, Adam Bogdan and Thomas Agyepong. They named five youngsters on the bench on Friday night for the visit of Rangers, with the quartet of Kevin Dabrowski, Sean Mackie, Lewis Allan and Fraser Murray only having five Premiership starts between them.
Only Oli Shaw, Marvin Bartley and Gael Bigirimana from that bench could be considered as first-team players and with many of the sidelined players unlikely to return for Saturday’s visit of Motherwell, Heckingbottom wants his kids to take their chance.
“The one thing I can say to our players is to step up because there will be opportunities to get game time,” said Heckingbottom.
“We are short and there’s not much competition in front of them, but I won’t be giving game time away. It’s a great opportunity for the young boys to step up, get in and stay in.”
Given the lack of numbers at present, Heckingbottom admitted that his options to change a game from the bench were limited, a fact underlined in that in his five matches in charge so far he’s only ever made two substitutes, while nine players have started every game.
He will have midfielder Vykintas Slivka back from a ban, but the Lithuanian’s return is offset by centre-half Darren McGregor being suspended after his late red card against Rangers.
“It’s been down to them to try to win from the start without any help, so they deserve an enormous amount of credit,” added Heckingbottom.