Scotland Under-21 boss Scot Gemmill: Hibs star Ryan Porteous can reach the very top

Scotland Under-21 boss Scot Gemmill has insisted there is “no limit” to where Ryan Porteous can go in football after giving the Hibs youngster an immediate recall to international duty.

Ryan Porteous
Ryan Porteous

The defender has only played one full 90 minute match – for the Edinburgh club’s colt side against Elgin City in the Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup – following six months out after knee surgery. But despite that lack of top-flight action, Gemmill had no hesitation in naming the 20-year-old in his squad for next month’s European Championship qualifying matches at home to San Marino and away to Croatia.

Although the required “fitness for duty” forms issued by the SFA had been completed and returned by Hibs, Gemmill had the chance to check for himself when he took in the club’s Betfred Cup clash against Morton at the weekend.

Porteous was a mere spectator having failed to make Paul Heckingbottom’s matchday squad but, nevertheless, the pair managed a brief chat. “Ryan is delighted to be involved,” said Gemmill, who will watch Porteous in action as Hibs’ development squad take on Tranent at Foresters Park tonight (kick-off 7 pm).

“And we are delighted to have him involved. It was just about our people talking to their people and making sure everyone is happy.

“Obviously protecting the player is paramount and we will, of course, do that. It shows what we think of him that we’ve called him up.

“I think he is going to be a big player moving forward. I think he is a player who can really push, there’s no limit for him. Can he play for Scotland in the future? Of course he can.

“It’s about helping him on that pathway. Everything is on course, it’s just about his club managing him and us helping in that way as well.”

Porteous, who has been capped eight times at Under-21 level to add to his seven appearances for the Under-19s, revealed recently that he has spent much of his time on the sidelines studying videos of matches he’s played in and realised to having a touch of “rashness” which he needs to eradicate from his game.

And that, insisted Gemmill, was a indication of “real maturity”. He said: “If that is what he is saying, then I think that shows good intelligence, not just intelligence but an emotional intelligence and ability to assess his performance and know how to make improvements.

“That shows real maturity and I think it shows he is working with good peoole and I also think he is good enough and clever enough to make these changes. We look forward to helping him.”

Gemmill’s trip to Easter Road also allowed him to see on-loan Rangers winger Glenn Middleton, also named in his 22-man squad, making his debut for Hibs, the 19-year-old having revealed he’d consulted Heckingbottom and 
Gemmill, among others, as he weighed up a season-long loan move to Edinburgh against a switch to Dutch club NAC Breda.

And, insisted, Gemmill, the youngster, who made 28 appearances for Rangers last season including the Europa League, had made a “win, win” decision in opting for Heckingbottom’s side after dropping down the pecking order at Ibrox.

He said: “If you’d said to Glenn at the start of last season and painted a picture of what he did, playing as much as he did and scoring the goals he did, working with the staff at Rangers, I think he’d have been happy with that.

“I spoke to Glenn about what happens next. He’s been given a great opportunity. It suits everybody, his parent club, his loan club, us and the player. It’s win, win.

“I did speak to Glenn about it (joining Hibs) and it’s great he trusted my opinion in that regard. I’ve known Glenn for a long time. I can remember going to see him as an 
Under-15 at Norwich, driving all that way.

“It’s a very long way from Derby (where Gemmill lives), it’s a bad road.”