'Man U can wait, I've got things to achieve at Hibs' - Fish has no interest in loan recall
Hibs defender Will Fish insists he has no interest in being recalled by parent club Manchester United in January. And the 20-year-old says he would “love” to stay at Easter Road – because he believes Nick Montgomery's men have a realistic crack at a top-three finish.
The centre-half's United contract runs at least until summer of 2025, with the Old Trafford club holding an option to extend their agreement with a player who has now spent almost a season-and-a-half gaining experience in the Scottish Premiership. The Premier League giants also have the power to cut short his loan in January – and send him out to develop in a different environment.
Asked if United had an official recall clause in the deal, Fish acknowledged: "I think they do but to be honest with you, those discussions haven't been had yet. It's not something that I'm actively looking to do.”
Pressed on whether he felt settled at Hibs, the Englishman declared: "One hundred percent. I'm enjoying the style of football and I feel like the team is going in the right direction.
“If I stay here, that's something that I would love to do. It's still pretty early in the season but under the gaffer, his coaching team and the way he wants to play, I think a few more tweaks and building on leads, we can easily push for the third spot.”
Fish has started every single one of Montgomery’s 12 games at the helm so far, showing flashes of both promise and inexperience. Importantly, for his own development, he’s learning how to dig out a victory.
Hibs had to do plenty of excavation work on Saturday, reaching down into the depths of their physical and mental reserves to get through the closing 28 minutes – plus six minutes of injury time – following Lewis Miller’s red card against Dundee. Two-nil up at the time, thanks to goals from Jair Tavares and Miller himself, they conceded late to make the closing stages nervy. But managed to hold on.
Having twice blown two-goal leads to drop points early in Montgomery’s time at the helm, Hibs have worked hard on the art of avoiding late collapses. Clearly, something is working.
Asked about the strong defensive display when Dundee got it back to 2-1, Fish admitted: "It's something that we've not been doing recently. We've chucked away a few leads.
“But I thought we defended well, especially when we were down to 10 men. That's what it takes to get three points in this league. If we want to go far then we've got to do that more often.
“I think we were comfortable at 2-0, to be honest. But red cards happen in football, and everyone has got to dig in. The last half hour was a good test of our character.
“That will be a big confidence boost for the boys. We can build on that, look back and review, even things that could get better for the future.”
Fish, who was pushed into extremely unfamiliar territory at right back when Miller was red carded, was definitely inconvenienced by the switch. But is willing to make allowances, in the circumstances.
"He's alright - because he scored, he's got a bit of leeway!” he said, when asked about Miller. “He's still a young player and red cards happen, it's one of those things. We got the win and that's all that matters.
"To be honest, I felt like I was on my own at times (at right back). Wherever the manager wants me to play, I'll play. I've never really played right back before but if the manager wants me to play there then that's no problem.”
While there will always be focus on the collective grit shown by Hibs to secure their victory with 10 men at Dens, few doubt that the strongest individual on the park was Jair Tavares. A player whose bizarre, year-long internal exile under Lee Johnson apparently extended to him being barred from the first team dressing room.
Fish, who spent all of last season on loan with Hibs before returning for a second spell in the summer, revealed: “I don't think he was in our changing room before the new gaffer came in. So massive credit to him.
“Fair play to him, he's moved countries, he's left everyone behind and hats off to him, he's stuck at it and now you can see the talent he's got. I feel like the squad and the fans have a good connection and it's nice for him to celebrate with them. Under the new gaffer, the way he wants to play, he looks like a totally new player.”
The opener scored by Tavares was a really good goal, not merely because he started and finished the break, or even by dint of Dylan Vente’s clever channel run and perfectly timed assist. You have to go back further to the Hibs central defenders splitting wide, inviting Dundee onto them, and then breaking the press, for the root of the goal.
"Playing out from the back, a cutback and then Jair finishes it,” said Fish, reliving the move. “That's something we work on - and it goes to show that the stuff we are doing on the training pitch is starting to come out in the games.”