HIBERNIAN head coach Alan Stubbs says he plans to help mend Alex Harris’ shattered confidence as the winger bids to recapture the form that saw him burst on to the first team stage.
Harris notched his second goal in two pre-season games at Stirling Albion on Sunday but Stubbs was left purring about the 19-year-old’s all-round performance at Forthbank.
The fleet-footed attacker made the breakthrough during the 2012/13 campaign and played a key role in their remarkable Scottish Cup semi-final comeback against Falkirk – scoring one and setting up another as they recovered from being three goals down. But after undergoing ankle surgery last August, Harris struggled during the closing months of the season as Hibs failed to secure their top-flight status. Stubbs, however, insists he will give Harris all the support he needs to ensure the teenager realises his potential.
“Alex is a very talented young lad,” Stubbs said. “It’s not hard to see that he has ability and we need to work with him and help him with his game. First and foremost he needs to work on his confidence. I think you can see that, he is a lot happier at this moment in time. We’ll keep working on him.
“When you’re a young player and there is a lot expected of you, it’s a lot of pressure. I’m trying to take that away from him, he needs to concentrate on enjoying football. His confidence is definitely growing, I’ve given him a license to go on the pitch and if he makes a mistake, he makes a mistake. He and the forward players are the ones who make the most mistakes because they’re trying to influence the game more than others, so his ratio of making mistakes will be higher than other players.
“I’ve told him it’s not a problem if he gives the ball away six times but he makes one chance that leads to a goal, I’ll take that all day long. I’ve got a lot of time for him because he has a lot of ability.”
Stubbs, meanwhile, is adamant Paul Heffernan will be ready for Hibs’ first competitive campaign of the season against Rangers despite a thigh injury preventing the striker from taking part in any warm-up matches.
Hibs travel to Ibrox on 5 August in the first round of the Petrofac Training Cup. Stubbs said: “I’m relaxed about Paul, we are just being really cautious with him.
“He will be stepping up his fitness next week. He will be ready for the first game of the season, I’ve got no qualms about that whatsoever. We’re just easing him in to it.”