JORDON Forster was one of five Hibs kids celebrating today after being handed new deals by the Easter Road club.
Forster, who made a surprise debut in the final Edinburgh derby of the season, has signed a one-year contract as have David Gold, Paul Grant, Dean Horribine and Euan Smith with boss Pat Fenlon challenging them to stake a claim for a first-team place of their own.
Centre half Forster made a huge impact towards the end of the season as club skipper James McPake was troubled by a back injury, following up that 2-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle by retaining his spot in Fenlon’s team culminating in an impressive performance against Celtic in the Scottish Cup final despite Hibs going down 3-0.
Today Forster, who has spent spells on loan with Berwick Rangers and East Fife, revealed he was delighted with his new deal as he set his sights on cementing his place in Fenlon’s team in the new season. The 19-year-old said: “The past couple of months have been unbelievable for me and I can’t wait to kick on and progress even further next season.
“It just goes to show that if you work hard then you do get your rewards – I went from being a long way from a first team start to playing in an Edinburgh derby and a Scottish Cup final. I love playing for Hibs and I’m looking forward to helping the team win matches next season.”
Horribine, 20, who made his debut as a substitute in the penultimate SPL match of the season, said: “I’m delighted to be at Hibs for another year, hopefully I can kick on and become a first-team player next season.”
Gold, also 20, captained Hibs Under-20s as they made a late charge to claim third place in their league, while goalkeeper Grant made his first start for Fenlon’s side in the final game of the 2011/12 season at Inverness before taking a seat on the bench for the Scottish Cup final against Hearts. Attacking
midfielder Smith, 19, spent the second half of the season on loan at Arbroath where he scored twice in 14 appearances.
Hibs’ head of academy coaching James McDonaugh believes the five, who are all from Edinburgh, have earned their new deals. He said: “They’ve gone down different routes to get their contracts and they’ve all learned it. They are dedicated young players with great attitudes plus they know what it means to play for this club.”
In the past three years, 11 academy graduates have made their debut at first-team level, with four teenagers, Forster, Danny Handling, Alex Harris and Ross Caldwell all featuring in last month’s Cup final.
Fenlon said: “I’m a firm believer that homegrown players absorb a club’s culture and represent its future. Alex,
Jordon, Danny and Ross all made contributions to the first team during the final few months of last season. Their progress will inspire other young players to try to do something similar and hopefully help them recognise that when they’re given a chance they need to seize it.”
Meanwhile, Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey has reiterated the Molineux club’s desire to keep Leigh Griffiths next season. The Midlands outfit have triggered an option in Griffiths’ contract to recall him although the 28-goal hitman has insisted he wants to stay with Hibs.