Nisbet returns, Megwa impresses, fringe players stake a claim - talking points from Hibs v Middlesbrough

Hibs lost 2-0 to English Championship side Middlesbrough in the first of two mid-season friendlies but there were plenty of talking points from the 90 minutes at Easter Road.

Nisbet returns

Regardless of scoreline, Hibs boss Lee Johnson was cheered by Kevin Nisbet’s return to action, nearly nine months to the day since his last appearance in green and white. The Scotland striker played the opening 45 minutes before making way for Elias Melkersen but showed flashes of what Hibs have been missing during his time on the sidelines. He will hope to get longer against FC Edinburgh next month in the second friendly so he can make a mark against Rangers at Ibrox in the first game back after the World Cup break.

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Fish stakes a claim

With Johnson confirming that Ryan Porteous won’t be signing a new deal with Hibs, the on-loan Manchester United defender was handed his first start for the club, partnering Rocky Bushiri in the first half and Paul Hanlon for most of the second period.

The Easter Road boss has already raved about the 19-year-old’s quality and he showed that against Middlesbrough, competing well against the Championship forwards. Equally comfortable playing out from the back, passing, or clearing it out of the park when required, the England Under-19 internationalist can be happy with his performance and may well have given Johnson food for thought for when the cinch Premiership starts up again next month.

Megwa seizes chance

Murray Aiken and Oscar MacIntyre have both made their senior debuts for Hibs but Murray Johnson and Kanayo Megwa were also given a chance to shine. Johnson kept a clean sheet during his time on the park and dealt well with a couple of Boro chances while Megwa put in an accomplished display at right-back. Injury to Lewis Miller has limited Johnson’s options at right-back, with Chris Cadden having played at least 75 minutes in all but one of Hibs’ league matches to date – but Megwa’s showing in his first senior appearance should ease the manager’s concerns about defensive cover if he can continue his rapid progression.

Hibs winger Jair Tavares tries to get past Middlesbrough's Anfernee Dijksteel during Saturday's friendly match

Nisbet and McKirdy link

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Nisbet and Harry McKirdy only had 45 minutes on the pitch together but the two forwards dovetailed well, Nisbet teeing up McKirdy for Hibs’ first real attempt on goal, and the pair didn’t look like it was their first time on the pitch together. Both have had disrupted starts to the season through injury but if they can continue to work well together, Hibs’ problems in the final third may lessen if the duo can hit the goal trail.

Boyle replacement

A mid-season friendly match was the ideal chance for Johnson to have a look at some potential replacements for Boyle with Demi Mitchell, Élie Youan, and Jair Tavares all operating on the right wing for spells. Tavares has flitted in and out of the team and definitely showed against Boro – as he has done in reserve matches – why Lee Johnson had been after him for some time. He should have scored early in the second half but also looks like a player who may benefit from a run of games. With FC Edinburgh due to visit Easter Road on friendly duty on Thursday December 8, both players are likely to get more gametime on that flank – but stepping into Boyle’s shoes is a big ask.