Hibs defender admits Aston Villa embarrassment and reveals opponent who was 'best I've played against'

Farmed out to Hibernian to build experience, Will Fish confesses the chastening hammering from Aston Villa was a stark indication of the levels needed if he is to live his dream and make it at Manchester United.

Despite the well-publicised discrepancies in budget and resources, the 20-year-old has refused to brush off Wednesday night’s 5-0 thrashing at home in an eye-opening Europa Conference League play-off. He admits the heavy loss was ‘embarrassing’, particularly for the defenders tasked with trying to keep the English Premier League side at bay.

Ollie Watkins was Villa’s hero with a clinical hat-trick and the England internationalist now ranks as the most dangerous opponent Fish has encountered in his career so far. For someone who trained and played with the likes of Mason Mount, Jadon Sancho, Antony and Aaron Wan-Bissaka at United over the summer, Fish accepts it was a steep learning curve against a well-oiled Villa machine.

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“It is hard isn’t it? You do see the difference in money the teams have to spend,” he said. “You should never concede five goals on a football pitch, though. It was quite embarrassing, especially for us to defenders. But the difference in class, the difference between the budgets the two teams have got to spend, showed on the pitch. We have got to learn from it and make sure it does not happen again next week.

Hibs defender Will Fish at full time after the 5-0 defeat to Aston Villa at Easter Road.  (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)Hibs defender Will Fish at full time after the 5-0 defeat to Aston Villa at Easter Road.  (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Hibs defender Will Fish at full time after the 5-0 defeat to Aston Villa at Easter Road. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

“They are probably the best team I have played against and that is the difference between us and the Premier League. One hundred percent, it shows the level you need to get to. It is a totally different level to what you encounter, just in training for example, and we just have to take the learning points and move on.

“Look, last season I racked up a decent number of games and I thought I was playing pretty well. I genuinely wanted to come back here and carry on my development. I can be honest and say I am not in the best of form at the minute but I am still young.”

Hibs will have to problem solve quickly if they are to avoid another humbling 90 minutes at Villa Park on Thursday. They failed to get to grips with Unai Emery’s fluid attacking system at Easter Road, with returning hero John McGinn and £52 million summer signing Moussa Diaby flummoxing Lee Johnson’s defensive line to create unfettered space for left-back Lucas Digne, who returned south with a hat-trick of assists.

Watkins benefitted from two of them as he racked up just his second treble for Villa to become only the fourth player to net three for the club in Europe. For Fish and his fellow defenders, it was a harsh lesson.

“He is unbelievably sharp and clinical,” he added of Watkins. “He scored a hat-trick and I don’t think he had that many more chances. I have played against similar players, but only in friendlies, really, not on a stage like the one on Wednesday. Probably in terms of movement and how clinical he was, he’s the best I’ve played against.

“No matter who they play [in the team this week] we will just have to have everyone at it and see what happens. That is another difference isn’t it? The players they can bring on off the bench. That is why they are probably one of the top six, seven teams in the Premier League.”



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