Hibs boss Neil Lennon has hailed Scott Martin, insisting the teenager midfielder’s performances have fully justified his place in the Easter Road side.
Although he started the first game of the season, a 2-1 away win against Falkirk when both Fraser Fyvie and Dylan McGeouch were injured, Martin has been forced to be patient, his only other appearance coming in the Irn-Bru Cup triumph over Turriff United in September.
But Martin was a surprise choice to face Raith Rovers on Christmas Eve as Marvin Bartley made way in the anchor role, the 19-year-old impressing Lennon sufficiently to hold his place for last weekend’s victory over Falkirk which took the Easter Road side back to the top of the Championship table.
Lennon said: “I was delighted with Scott’s performance against Raith – he justified his place in the team. He’s a very good player who has a decent future in the game and playing with good players will bring him on.
“Playing against more experienced guys like Mark Kerr and Tom Taiwo at Falkirk at the weekend will have been a good experience for him. We knew he could do better than he did first half and he did so in the second.
“Scott has been head and shoulders one of the best players in the development league all season. He started the first game of the season but the competition we have in midfield has made it very difficult for him to be in the squad. But he’s taken his chance and done really well.”
The impending return from injury of Scotland internationalist John McGinn – the midfielder may even feature in Friday night’s showdown with title rivals Dundee United after recovering from an ankle operation – and Fraser Fyvie will obviously put Martin’s place under threat as will the sight of Bartley sitting on the bench. Lennon, however, refused to be drawn into such a debate, insisting: “It will all come down to team selection, horses for courses. But Scott has done really well, we are very pleased with his progress.”