Five things Hibs fans should know about Vykintas Slivka

Vykintas Slivka attempts to dispossess Kyle Walker during a match between Lithuania and England at Wembley. Picture: Getty
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Hibs are on the verge of signing the Lithuanian from Juventus on a three-year deal. Here’s everything you need to know about the 22-year-old.

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He’s a technically proficient midfielder

As expected by someone signed by Juventus as a youth player, Slivka has impressive technique for a midfielder. Comfortable with controlling the ball with both feet, he takes light touches and is able to stroke the ball around the park with minimal fuss.

While he lacks pace and strength, he’s still an athletic and dynamic player, capable of getting forward quickly and breaking past the strikers or running into the channels to offer another option in attack.

He’s another versatile player

As we’ve previously covered, Neil Lennon likes to remain flexible with his tactical gameplan and has already recruited versatile players to keep his options open next season. Steven Whittaker can play at either full-back spot or in the centre of the park, Danny Swanson can operate on either wing or as a supporting striker, and Simon Murray spent time as a winger and a striker during Dundee United’s failed promotion bid last season. With the likes of Lewis Stevenson, Dylan McGeouch and Martin Boyle already capable of performing in more than one role, Lennon has a team he can shape from one system to another during a match without making wholesale changes to the personnel.

Adding to this squad flexibility is Slivka. Across his career he’s played as a No.8, a No.10 and spent time on both wings thanks to his ambidexterity.

He had an assist against Scotland

If you’ve not already buried it deep in your subconscious, try if you can to remember Scotland’s dismal 1-1 draw with Lithuania earlier in this qualification campaign. Slivka started the match in the No.10 role for the visitors, tasked with linking midfield and attack. Rather than going beyond the striker, the midfielder would usually look to drop back and link play. It meant Lithuania had more of the ball than anyone could have anticipated before the match, especially while the game was still at 0-0.

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This goes along with what Lennon said when the manager was describing the player’s ability. He talked of Slivka as a strong tactical player and it was certainly evident in this disciplined performance at our national stadium.

Against Gordon Strachan’s side he showed great composure on the football, calmly stepping away from danger time and again and keeping possession ticking over for his side. He also helped drag his team up the park by utilising his aerial advantage. Over 6ft in height, Slivka won his fair share of long-balls, which stopped the play coming straight back towards the Lithuanian goal whenever Scotland threatened.

He even made an impact on the scoresheet, playing through a perfectly weighted pass for Fedor Cernych to fire the visitors in front just before the hour mark.

Based on this performance, a supporting striker role alongside, say, Simon Murray could well be on the cards in games where Hibs are expected to defend for long periods.

He got three goals for Den Bosch

Across 18 months with the Dutch second tier side, Slivka netted just three goals despite playing a significant portion of his 40-plus games as an attacking midfielder.

Getting goals from midfield and finishing off lesser opponents has been a problem for Hibs over the past three seasons and though the signing of Swanson will certainly add a greater scoring threat from the middle of the park, Lennon may be reticent to use Slivka as an out-and-out No.10 in games where the onus is on Hibs to take the game to the opposition.

He’s started every single one of Lithuania’s World Cup qualifiers

Manager Edgaras Jankauskas is a big fan of the 22-year-old and, therefore, doesn’t just play him against dross like Scotland. He’s started in all six of the country’s matches in the World Cup qualifying campaign so far, including an appearance against England at Wembley. All in all he’s got 19 caps for his nation. Not bad for a player who turned 22 earlier this year.

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