Steve Kean makes Hibs first-team squad claim after under-19s sweep Livingston aside in Reserve Cup
Hibs academy chief Steve Kean insists that while the club’s under-19s have ‘one eye’ on their UEFA Youth League play-off meeting with Borussia Dortmund, the main aim for his players has to be breaking into the Easter Road first-team squad.
Speaking after goals from Ethan Laidlaw, Robbie Hamilton, and Josh O’Connor gave Hibs a 3-1 SPFL Reserve Cup victory over a very experienced Livingston side, with manager Lee Johnson and his coaching staff watching on from the side, Kean hailed his youngsters and insisted the performance would do their first-team chances no harm.
“We’ve got one eye on the preparation for Dortmund, but on the other hand, our main objective is about getting players into our first team. All the first-team staff – the manager, David Gray, Jamie McAllister, Adam Owen, Stuart Garden – were there watching,” he said.
“When you’re playing against a senior side that’s a better barometer for the coaches to see where the young players are at, rather than playing against a younger side. This game gave the gaffer a real good chance to look at the players and gauge where they’re at in reference to being involved with the senior squad.”
Hibs were 1-0 up at half-time courtesy of Laidlaw’s opener before Hamilton and O’Connor struck in the second half. Jackson Longridge notched a late consolation for the visitors who struggled to cope with a slick Hibs side.
“I was delighted because [Livi] had eight or nine first-team players in the game,” Kean continued. “It was a proper test against an older team, which is ideal preparation for when we play Dortmund. It’s another good victory after last week’s win over Dundee United and the lads were exceptional again. It was a top, top performance.”
Insisting that his side had outplayed their West Lothian visitors Kean continued: “It’s all about keeping up with match intensity and when you’re playing against senior players, with their first-team manager David Martindale sitting on the bench, there’s a different edge to the game.
“Our lads met that, excelled, and we probably should’ve been more than 3-0 ahead with a few minutes to go. To compete, overrun, and dominate a game when there’s so many senior pros playing, it’s a really good gauge as to where we’re at, which is in a very good place.”