Lee Johnson speaks on 'protecting' Jair Tavares as Portuguese winger shines in Hibs reserve win

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Jair Tavares scored one and laid on another as Hibs defeated Hamilton 3-1 in the SPFL Reserve League clash at the ZLX Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.

Oscar MacIntyre was credited with the first goal on 20 minutes, the full-back’s shot taking a deflection off a defender en route to goal, before the Portuguese winger cut inside from the left and found the bottom corner on the half-hour mark. Tavares then set up Allan Delferrière moments later with a well-timed pass allowing the midfielder to steer home a third before half-time. Accies hit back through Cormac Daly in the second half but Hibs saw the game out.

Tavares has had limited gametime since arriving from Benfica B during the summer, playing just 233 minutes in total mostly as a substitute.

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Speaking to the Evening News last month, manager Lee Johnson spoke about the player’s time at Hibs so far: “With Jair, his signing was marketed as him coming from Benfica and getting the number ten shirt but actually he needs a lot of time. This is a player who should have had ten or 15 minutes off the bench after McGeady, so maybe we should be better at articulating the story to the fanbase for each player,” he added.

Jair Tavares caught the eye during Hibs' 3-1 SPFL Reserve League victory over Hamilton AcciesJair Tavares caught the eye during Hibs' 3-1 SPFL Reserve League victory over Hamilton Accies
Jair Tavares caught the eye during Hibs' 3-1 SPFL Reserve League victory over Hamilton Accies

“We hoped he would be able to learn from McGeady. That was part of the plan. Jair’s come over from Portugal, he’s used to a different tempo and having 80 per cent possession, standing still and getting the ball fed to him and running at an opponent. Now he’s got 50/50 possession, there’s wind swirling around, he’s got balls being shelled down defenders’ throats and runners going off him. I feel quite protective of Jair and sometimes that means not putting him on the pitch. I think he has to do more but we’ve had practice games where he’s been probably the best player on the pitch.

“He’s got to be involved more because the intensity is higher – there are more passes over 40 yards than in any other league – and he’s got to switch on tactically and effectively become a man from a boy. Even though he’s 22, his physical maturation is a bit behind and that adaptation time has to be built into the succession plan of the squad.”

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