Hibs Development XI v Elgin: Ryan Porteous wants to put down marker – but he won’t take any risks

Ryan Porteous believes tonight’s Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Cup clash with Elgin City can help him take a huge stride towards a return to first-team action.

Tom James, Ryan Porteous and Stevie Mallan in training at HTC
Tom James, Ryan Porteous and Stevie Mallan in training at HTC

Out since the end of January having undergone knee surgery, the Scotland Under-21 defender is set to be in the starting line-up, with Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom pondering on whether to include which of club captain David Gray, Oli Shaw and Sean Mackie as over-age players, but Lewis Stevenson isn’t likely to play.

Porteous made an appearance as a second-half substitute seven days ago as Hibs faced Newcastle United – who fielded record £40 million striker Joelinton – but while the visit of League Two Elgin may not quite capture the imagination in the same way, Porteous has underlined the importance of the match to him.

He said: “It’ll be the first time I’ll have started a game in six months so the goal is to play the full 90 minutes. But I’ll be sensible, if I’m feeling anything or I’m really tiring after 60 or 70 minutes I’ll be coming off.

“The main priority for me is coming through however long I play, fit and healthy and, hopefully, help the team to a win.

“If I can play the 90 it will be another box ticked in my recovery and then it will be on to playing another 90. It’s a matter of taking it game by game but I’m not going to be rushing things, I want to be fit to play for the majority of the season.”

Porteous is also conscious of the fact he’s yet to play a competitive match under Heckingbottom and, to that end, he’s anxious to catch his eye while also urging the younger team-mates who will be around him to take the chance to do likewise, pointing out how, along with Fraser Murray, Shaw and Mackie were in the Hibs Under-21 side who lost to tonight’s visitors in the same competition only two years 
ago.

He said: “It’s a big stage for some who won’t have played at Easter Road so they have to make the most of it and try to give the manager, who has shown that he will reward young players, some food for thought.”

Heckingbottom’s own first team travelled to Borough Briggs only 11 days ago, winning 2-0 to secure their place in the last 16 of the Betfred Cup, but Elgin will provide a tough test for his youngsters, 
predicted Porteous.

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“They’ll be coming up against a lot of experienced players who will be taking this very seriously,” he said.

“So hopefully the likes of myself, Fraser Murray and Jamie Gullan, who still qualify age-wise, and whoever the manager decides to play as over-age players, can help them through the game which will be a great experience for them.”

And on a personal level Porteous is looking to make it third time lucky against Elgin, having also lost to them when making his debut in a 3-0 defeat while on loan at 
Edinburgh City.

He said: “That wasn’t a pleasant experience but hopefully we can replicate what the first team did up there a few days ago and put on a bit of a performance.”