Demetri Mitchell 'pushed for Hibs move' as Shaun Maloney dismisses idea of added pressure on former Hearts loanee

Even in 2022, it is still rare for a player to represent both of Edinburgh’s Scottish Premiership teams.
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Not unheard of, of course. James Keatings helped Hearts to the Scottish Championship title before shifting to the other side of the city and winning another second-tier title and the Scottish Cup with Hibs.

Adam Eckersley, Fraser Mullen, Alan Maybury, Darren Jackson, Michael Stewart, and Paul Hartley have all made similar journeys in the last 30 years while Josh Doig famously swapped Hearts for Hibs at youth level before going on to become an established member of the Easter Road first team.

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Demetri Mitchell, who has joined Hibs on a two-and-a-half year deal from Blackpool after previously spending time on loan at Tynecastle, is therefore one of a select group.

Demetri Mitchell was all smiles as he took part in training ahead of the trip to MotherwellDemetri Mitchell was all smiles as he took part in training ahead of the trip to Motherwell
Demetri Mitchell was all smiles as he took part in training ahead of the trip to Motherwell

One who, Shaun Maloney has revealed, was desperate to return to the Capital.

"Demetri made a big push to come here,” he said as he previewed Wednesday night’s trip to Motherwell.

“I respect Blackpool for the help they have given in getting it through over the last couple of days, but Demetri made clear his desire to come here."

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Maloney isn’t fussed about Mitchell’s previous clubs, instead pointing out that he has been chasing a player in the 25-year-old’s mould since his arrival last month.

Shaun Maloney believes Mitchell will be a good addition to his Hibs squadShaun Maloney believes Mitchell will be a good addition to his Hibs squad
Shaun Maloney believes Mitchell will be a good addition to his Hibs squad

“Demetri’s attributes were something I wanted pretty early when I got here so I was really glad that we got him so quickly,” the Hibs boss added.

“For it to happen in this window, I’m really positive about that. I’ve got no reservations at all about him playing for Hearts.”

He was quick to play down any fears that the former England Under-20 cap might get a rough ride from some members of the support, especially if his Easter Road career takes a while to get going.

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"Our fans have been really, really supportive since I’ve been here,” Maloney said.

“I think it’s a little harsh to presume that he might not start so well or that that might be the reception. I understand the history between both clubs and I really respect Demetri.

“He really did push to come here, and I wanted him from early on. I’ve got no concerns about him being able to do really well here.

“We’ve had it with different players since we’ve been here. If they show the commitment they show me in training in games, I think our supporters have been very good, so I don’t expect them to be any different with any player.

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"I don’t have any concerns about Demetri settling in immediately with us in our group,

“He’s really committed so I have no concerns about him playing for Hearts previously and now him signing for us for the next two and a half years.”

Wednesday’s Scottish Premiership trip to North Lanarkshire to take on Motherwell might come too soon for Mitchell, as Hibs chase a third consecutive win at Fir Park, but the former Manchester United youngster is one the Hibs boss is keen to put in his squad as soon as possible – although he will be in the squad for the trip to ML1.

"Demetri is in the squad for the Motherwell game. It could be a game to soon for him because he hasn’t trained as much but I will make that decision on Wednesday.

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“He’s not trained in the last week so we’ll have to get him to the point where he can start,” Maloney explained.

So he could feature in next month’s Edinburgh derby…?

“I’m really game to game but he’ll be available really quickly. As long as that stays the case he’ll be available for the derby match."

Despite the timing of Mitchell’s arrival and Martin Boyle’s departure, the former is not viewed as a like-for-like replacement for the latter.

“The process [to bring in a Boyle replacement] started as Martin’s own case started to progress, and it’s ongoing.

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“As soon as Martin’s progress became more serious the work to find those specific attributes was accelerated. But at the moment there is nothing.

“When you look at how Martin did for this club over the last few years it is difficult to replace that.

“But our job is to replace it, to go on with that process and move forward. That’s what we’re at. We have to go and do that for the benefit of the squad.”

Mitchell himself is eager to get going, having been sold on Maloney’s vision for Hibs – but he knows all too well what Scottish football has in store thanks to those spells in Gorgie.

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"It was my first time on loan and I played against some big teams – against Celtic, Rangers, and my debut was actually against Hibs as well,” he said.

The Hibs new boy was an unused substitute on the only occasion he was fit for an Edinburgh derby in Leith but the ground left an impression.

"The stadium’s great, the fans were great, and the atmosphere was amazing,” he recalled. “I’m just buzzing to get going. I’m excited to be back in Scotland again, and I’m excited to try and get into Europe.”

Mitchell’s preferred role is as a wingback and he is keen to be thrust into Maloney’s wingback-heavy style of play.

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"That’s part of the reason why I came here,” he said. “Depending on the formation the gaffer wants to play, whether it’s with wingbacks or wingers, I don’t really mind, I don’t really have a preference.

"Everyone’s been so welcoming, the lads have been great, and I can't wait to get going.”

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