Philippines head coach hails Hibs kid Yrick Gallantes and reveals why he subbed him in first half

Philippines head coach Scott Cooper and, inset, Hibs youngster Yrick Gallantes
Philippines head coach Scott Cooper and, inset, Hibs youngster Yrick Gallantes
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Philippines head coach Scott Cooper was full of praise for Hibs development squad forward Yrick Gallantes, who made his senior debut in the Azkals' 4-1 win over Guam in a 2022 World Cup qualifier.

Gallantes was named in Scott Cooper's starting line-up on the left of a four-man midfield, and nearly registered an assist after 60 seconds, his cross just out of reach of team captain and fellow winger Stephan Schrock.

He had a chance of his own in the opening exchanges and performed well on his first international start, but was unexpectedly substituted after 36 minutes and replaced by striker Javier Patiño with the Azkals enjoying a two-goal cushion over the hosts.

Gallantes was one of two teenagers in the starting line-up, alongside 19-year-old Jong AZ defender Justin Baas. The duo were unused subs in the 5-2 loss to Syria last Thursday.

Speaking about the pair after the match, Cooper said: "[Yrick and Justin] initially came into the squad as the 22nd and 23rd members really, then we quickly identified that they've both got something.

"Some injuries took place, some performances took place and we took a look at them. We were going to play with two wide players and, wide left, we wanted a player who could attack people and dribble and Gallantes showed in the first few minutes he could definitely do that.

"The end product was just what you'd expect from a young player - it wasn't quite there yet, but he looked dangerous."

Cooper also explained the reasoning behind his decision to replace Gallantes, who is currently on a development loan at Scottish Lowland League side Gala Fairydean Rovers, with around ten minutes of the first half remaining.

"Unfortunately for Yrick we had to withdraw him, because we were having problems on our left side with a very quick Guam player and we needed a bit more experience on the left wing to help the left-back out," Cooper explained.

"So it wasn't a knock on his performance, it was more a tactical thing that we had to do."

Filipino-born Gallantes, who emigrated with his parents and brothers to Scotland as a youngster, was fast-tracked into the senior national team squad earlier this year, despite never featuring for the country's underage teams.

The former Newcraighall Leith Vics player coincidentally came up on the Philippines' radar during the brief reign of former Hibs manager Terry Butcher, who dispatched former Easter Road chief scout Steve Marsella to watch Gallantes in action. Neil Lennon admitted in the early months of his time in the Capital that he was wary of asking too much too soon from Gallantes, adding: "I'm not saying he's an outstanding talent, but he's got something, because the [academy staff] think he's good enough to make an impact."

Gallantes made his debut for the Hibs development team at the age of just 15 in October 2016, and regularly features for Lee Makel's side in attack or on the right wing.

Butcher and Marsella had departed their posts by the time Gallantes was called up to a 40-man training squad in Bangkok in March of this year, but he impressed sufficiently to be called into the 23-man squad for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Syria and Guam by Cooper, who had served as No.2 to the former Hibs manager.

Gallantes could feature for the Philippines when the 126th-ranked nation take on China at the Panaad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod.