The 5 Hibs players facing a crucial season in 2022/23

Which members of Hibs first-team squad will definitely need to have a strong campaign next term? We look at the leading candidates.

Paul Hanlon

Still has two years remaining on his deal so his status as one-club man isn’t under any immediate threat, but if he wants to go into the final year as one of the first names on the teamsheet then he’s going to need to bounce back from a 2021/22 campaign where we saw some of the old Hanlon flaws creep back into his game, most notably his tendency to become overpowered by physical opposing forwards.

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Barring a distater, he’ll join long-term team-mate Lewis Stevenson among the top five for all-time Hibs appearances with just seven games to go until he bypasses Willie Ormond. But with Hibs sure to try and bolster the centre of defence this summer, he won’t want to drop to the bench and be left considering as to whether he needs to finally leave his boyhood heroes in order to maximise what time he has left in his playing career.

Ryan Porteous and Paul Hanlon are both coming into important seasons in their career for very different reasons. Picture: SNS

Ryan Porteous

The centre-back could well be leaving Easter Road this summer as the club have yet to convince him to sign a new deal and would need to be mindful of potentially losing him for nothing next year if they turn down any bids for his services.

If he does remain at Hibs player for the campaign then it still represents a big one in his development. Porteous still has his detractors and doubters and, frankly, he really shouldn’t. He’s a multi-skilled centre-back capable of both setting the table for his side in possession and dominating opponents, but he’s yet to put it together in a flawless, player-of-the-season-contender type season like he’s certainly capable.

In 2020/21 he seemingly left the disciplinary issues in the past, winning significantly more fouls per game than he committed and keeping his card count low, with no reds. However, he still had a tendency to lose his concentration and cost Hibs some big goals as a result. Last year that side of his game appeared to be ironed out and, whenever he played, he was often the best player in green and white. Yet his disciplinary problems reared their head again with him being sent off three times, which meant he missed nine (N-I-N-E) games in total.

This term he needs to put it all together: keep the mistakes at a minimum, don’t miss any significant time through suspension and let his talent shine through. Where he goes next could have a significant impact on the rest of his career. The better the season, the better a move.

Kevin Dabrowski

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Nobody knows patience like the Polish custodian who had to wait four-and-a-half years after his arrival to make his first-team debut. Though he impressed against Hearts, earning himself man-of-the-match honours, and did likewise in his other five appearances, he was still looked upon as the reserve to Matt Macey in the eyes of the Hibs management staff.

The 6ft 7in goalkeeper (it’s law to mention his height) has now left Easter Road. Unfortunately for Dabrowski, Macey has been upgraded on with David Marshall joining the club earlier this summer.

The former Scotland international will turn 38 before the end of the campaign so can hardly be looked upon as the long-term future at the position. It will therefore be up for Dabrowski to convince new boss Lee Johnson that he can be one day take the gloves on a full-time basis. To earn such consideration, not to mention a contract extension, he’ll need to shine in training and make the most of the few opportunities he gets in relief of Marshall.

Kyle Magennis

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Unfortunately for Magennis, the biggest improvement required next season is something which is largely outwith his control. He needs to buck the trend of his undoubtedly-promising career so far and stay fit for the majority of the campaign.

The attacking midfielder was a huge miss for Hibs last season and there’s no way they would’ve ended up in the bottom six, and Jack Ross would probably still be employed in Leith, if he’d been able to avoid injury and build on his terrific start. Instead, he didn’t play again after late September and Hibs never properly replaced the missing link between midfield and the strikers.

When he first signed for Hibs the knock on him was that he was injury-prone. Still only 23 and with another three years remaining on his deal there is still time for him to leave his fitness troubles in the past, but with his history it already feels like a big campaign if he wants to establish some career momentum and let his obvious talent shine through.

Kevin Nisbet

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It’s maybe a little harsh to put any pressure on Nisbet going into next term as he’ll likely miss half of it through to a serious knee injury sustained in February, though the fact remains we’re coming up to a crucial juncture in the 25-year-old’s career.

He’ll have one year left on his contract when the summer of 2023 rolls around and he’ll want to hold as many cards as possible, whether that’s getting as much out of Hibs as possible with a new contract, or re-establishing the interest from other teams which existed prior to a disappointing 2021/22 season even before the injury.

When he returns he’ll be coming off his first significant set-back since being released by Partick Thistle as a youngster and will need to show similar levels of mental fortitude to once again become the Nisbet which fans adored in his maiden campaign in Leith.

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