'Nothing sinister' in decision to bench Nisbet and Porteous, says Hibs boss Jack Ross
Hibs manager Jack Ross has insisted that there was “nothing sinister” behind the decision to leave Kevin Nisbet and Ryan Porteous kicking their heels on the bench throughout February.
The pair had been regular starters throughout the opening few months of the season. The form earned Porteous a Scotland call-up, while Nisbet, who is one of the league’s top scorers, was touted to follow suit.
But, after the Hibees turned down offers from clubs down south in January, both players were dropped to the bench. Despite the window closing several weeks ago, they only returned to the starting line-up last weekend but their manager says that was more to do with the men who replaced them than anything they did.
“They came out the team around the time of the [transfer] speculation and I commented on that at the time, in terms of the challenges that brings for young players, explained the Easter Road boss, who has both players available for the trip to Dingwall today. “That then coincided with us having a really good period in terms of results and performances and players who had waited patiently to play had earned the right to keep hold of the jersey.
“There was nothing sinister in them being out of the team other than the fact the players who had come in for them were doing really well.”
After a difficult month, Hibs pieced together four wins on the bounce in their absence, with Martin Boyle, who now has 10 league goals, closing in on Nisbet’s Premiership tally of 11.
But, after impressing from the bench, the pair were promoted back to the team, at McDiarmid Park, last weekend.
“I think when they had come on in games I felt they had contributed - Ryan in particular,” added the Hibs boss. “Although with defenders that impact can sometimes be less obvious and it is easier for a striker to make an impact, Ryan has come on in games and looked to be right at it.
“And having waited patiently for that opportunity it was good to get them back in and starting.”