Ryan Porteous confident that double training sessions in Spain can help Hibs make up for poor first half of season
Defender believes players have benefited from twice daily sessions
Ryan Porteous believes Hibs’ Spanish boot camp will help the Easter Road side kick on as they bid to make up for a bitterly disappointing first half of the season.
Although Jack Ross’s squad headed into the winter break sitting sixth in the Ladbrokes Premiership table, the Scotland Under-21 defender admitted he and his team-mates had fallen far short of expectations.
But, he insisted, being put through the wringer during a week on the Costa del Sol which saw them being pushed through twice daily training sessions, will give the players the chance to turn up the heat on the likes of Aberdeen and Motherwell even although those two currently sit 11 and 12 points better off respectively.
“It was a poor start to the season, everyone knows that,” he said. “But we got to a semi-final and we are now back in the top six, where we want to be.
“Now it is about putting performances together and getting better results than we have had. It could still be a really good season. What has helped us is other teams have struggled as well.
“So if we perform the way we know we can we can get some big results. It’s just about doing that over the second half of the season.
“Motherwell and Aberdeen aren’t a million miles away. And I am sure the teams below us will be looking to try and catch us as well.
“But there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be looking up the way. If we had won or even drawn some of the games we have lost we’d be so much better off.
“You think back to some of the positions we were in, 2-0 up with 15 minutes to go. We should be seeing those games out and if we had we would be up there.
“When you’re 2-0 up with 15 minutes to go it doesn’t matter who you are playing, you should see it out. We haven’t done that.
“We need to learn from that and put it all together in the second part.”
As tough as this week has been, Porteous admitted he’d rather be slogging away on the training pitch than sitting watching as he did this time last year when Hibs wintered in Dubai and he was reduced to being a spectator by a serious knee injury. “Last year I just went for a bit of a jolly,” he admitted. “But this year I can guarantee you it hasn’t been like that. All the lads are feeling it.
“It was tough when we were in Dubai, mentally it is so much better this year. I watched the boys running and I just wanted to be part of it. So this year I am just enjoying being out here.
“It’s weird because it’s hard work, but it’s so much easier when you are enjoying it. You do miss it when you’re not involved.
“I still wanted to go (to Dubai), it was better than staying at home. It was a good experience. But this has been a really good trip. I don’t think there has been any niggling injuries so we have all got through it.
“I wouldn’t say it’s been too different to pre-season. There’s more football involved.
“When you go into pre-season you just have a month off so you do need a lot of aerobic work. But here six days off isn’t a lot for people so we are just topping up.
“It’s a good opportunity to boost our fitness levels and give us an upper hand on our opponents.”
Hibs will wrap up their stay in the south of Spain with a friendly against Willem II tomorrow, the Dutch Eredivise side which defeated them 3-1 in similar fixture at this time of year in 2018, their opponents boasting a familiar face in Miquel Nelom, the defender who spent a brief spell at Easter Road.
And head coach Jack Ross believes it’s the perfect way to end the trip, saying: “The players have worked hard and are tired. Although we have a game it’s probably less load because the group will play 45 minutes each. It’s just a good way to finish the week and keep some ticking over with game time but at the same time get game time to players like David Gray, Adam Jackson and Tom James, who have not played a lot recently.”
“We’ve got enough players here with us to do that gives them that to finish week equally in terms of the workload they have had. But there will be some who will benefit even more so than others but equally the ones that haven’t played a lot recently haven’t had a game for a couple of weeks.
“We’ll just split our squad, try to balance it out between players that have played, haven’t played and we have some younger ones as well.”
“We also have a bounce game on Tuesday when we return so between the two matches the players should get enough minutes.”
Striker Jamie Gullan, however, won’t feature as he flies home to play for League One leaders Raith Rovers as they face Forfar at Station Park tomorrow.
The 20-year-old is the Kirkcaldy club’s top scorer with nine goals having spent the first half of the season on loan at Stark’s Park
and as such Raith boss John McGlynn was keen to have his deal extended, a compromise being struck to allow him to play this one last game before rejoining Ross’s squad with the intention of forcing his way into Hibs first team squad.