New midfielder will energise engine room - Hibs Exclusive

Former Bournemouth kid has qualities to suit Monty masterplan
Nathan Moriah-Welsh is eager to get stuck in.Nathan Moriah-Welsh is eager to get stuck in.
Nathan Moriah-Welsh is eager to get stuck in.

To say that Nathan Moriah-Welsh pitched up at Hibs eager to play would be something of an understatement. Like suggesting that the plastic pitch at Kilmarnock, a surface that somehow manages to be both sticky and slippery, isn’t everyone’s favourite.

Hibs boss Nick Montgomery, grinning as he talked about his new signing’s first day at the office, revealed: “He’s good to go. He’s chomping at the bit. He only arrived last Friday – and was desperate to play on Saturday! At one point I was going to put him on against Kilmarnock …”

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Moriah-Welsh completed his move from Bournemouth last week, signing a deal that should – in theory – keep him at Easter Road for two-and-a-half years. Montgomery clearly wouldn’t be surprised if the 21-year-old attracted interest long before his contract reaches the home straight.

The truth is that Monty has been looking for something different, in central midfield, since the day he walked into East Mains as a replacement for axed predecessor Lee Johnson, inheriting a team who had lost their first three games of the Scottish Premiership campaign. In the new gaffer’s 4-4-2 system, not quite as rigid as some make out, his central midfielders need to have certain qualities. In Moriah-Welsh, Montgomery believes he’s found someone who fits the bill.

“Nathan is a really energetic midfielder,” said the Yorkshireman. “He likes to tackle, likes to do the dirty work and get around the pitch. He’s very mobile. But he can also get forward, he can score goals. Yeah, he’s just full of energy.

“He’s been out on loan, been at Newport, had a good 40 or 50 games. Then he was back playing at Bournemouth, training and playing with the first team; I think he made his first team debut.

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“He’s a player coming here on a permanent contract, looking to kick start his career. But I’ve no doubt he’s got the potential to go back, whether it’s the Championship or Premier League, in the future. For now, I think he’s been really brave.

“I saw him live, and (director of football) Brian McDermott saw him live. I travelled down to watch him play. Brian also watched him two weeks ago. We started monitoring him. With Jimmy Jeggo’s departure, it was a natural move to go for him, because I knew he really wanted to come here. Nathan is a player with real tenacity. I think he’s going to be a good signing for Hibs.”

Montgomery, who has also added Luke Amos to his midfield contingent, has certain non-negotiables when it comes to the guys running things from the centre of the park, revealing: “They need to have energy. They need to be able to get around the park, get forward, get back, cover both sides and be the engine room for us, link play together. But also, when things break down, get back and secure the middle of the pitch.

“We’ve got a lot of technical midfielders. What we’ve probably lacked a little bit is a more defensive midfielder. But squad wise, we just haven’t had any depth.

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“Bringing Luke and Nathan in will really add strength to that midfield. It will also create competition for places. They’re exactly the sort of players we needed to bring in. We’ve filled some big gaps.

“We’ve really had a lack of competition for places all over the pitch this season. That’s not healthy. It really isn’t healthy.

“You need good strength in depth is vital. Sometimes you need the motivation of knowing that, if you come in and don’t perform, someone else is going to take your position.”

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