DCSIMG

Pat Fenlon insists cap can fit Paul Hanlon

Paul Hanlon in action for Scotland

Paul Hanlon in action for Scotland

  • by MARTIN HANNAN
 

JUST when you might start believing all that footballer talk about not being interested in the hype and hoopla of the final day of the transfer window, along comes Paul Hanlon of Hibs to give the game away.

Of course the defender was glued to the telly waiting to see who might be coming Hibs’ way or heading out the door – just like almost every player and fan in the land.

“I was keeping a watch on what was going on,” said Hanlon. “It was quite late when our deal got done for Matt [Done] and I didn’t expect anything to happen so that was a bit of a surprise. I’m sure that he will be a good addition to the squad.”

Done joined Hibs on loan from Barnsley with minutes of January left, while Scott Robertson signed from Blackpool on the 28th. Hanlon welcomed them both ahead of today’s fifth round Scottish Cup tie against Aberdeen at Easter Road.

He said: “Scott’s a great football player and obviously he has had recognition for the Scotland national team, so you’re not going to be a bad player if you’ve done that.

“He’s been struggling for games down south so, coming back up here, he will be hungry for games and that will benefit the team.

“It is good to bring fresh faces in, it is competition for the squad. Hopefully, if either plays at the weekend, they will have a positive impact on the team. Performances have been disappointing in the last couple of games, so a bit of a freshen up cannot be a bad thing.”

Hanlon says Hibs need to improve sharply after the 1-1 draw with Aberdeen in the SPL last weekend.

“In the first-half we were terrible,” said Hanlon. “We struggled to create chances. We need to improve our overall performance.

“It took a late goal for us to win against them last season [in the Scottish Cup semi-final]. Every game has been close and I don’t think this one will be any different. They played well at the weekend and will be hoping to play exactly the same and try to get a win this time. But we know we can play a lot better than that.”

Beating capital rivals Hearts in the previous round put to bed the nightmare of last season’s cup final defeat, according to Hanlon.

“They are the holders and, if they had beaten us in the last round and were still in the competition, they would have had another one over on us,” he said. “Hopefully we can perform well against Aberdeen and push on again.”

Hanlon has been an “ever present” for Hibs this season: “I have played every minute of every game and I’m quite proud of that. I am going to try to keep it going for most of the season.”

Now 23, Hanlon knows he needs to take more responsibility on the pitch and having captained Scotland at under-21 level (pictured below) he has aspirations to win a full cap. He said: “I have played more than enough games and I am not a young boy any more, so I need to try and show the experience that I have gained in playing all these games and try and pass it on to the even younger ones.

“I think I have got the chance of getting in the Scotland squad but you need to play well for Hibs week in and week out to do that, so I’ll just keep trying to do that every week.”

His manager, Pat Fenlon, called Hanlon “the model professional” and thinks he can emulate a colleague by donning the dark blue.

“I think he’s got the potential to get into the full Scotland squad,” said Fenlon. “It’s an area that Scotland are probably not blessed with loads of real talent at the moment.

“The problem for Scotland is that, over the time, you’ve had some really good central defenders, from the 1970s through to probably the early ’90s there’s been some fantastic players in that position. So, anybody being judged against that is harsh.

“Hopefully, he will get an opportunity but it will be down to him. It’s like everything, if he puts himself in the shop window for the manager and he’s playing really well then, like with Leigh Griffiths, it’s difficult to ignore that.”

 

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