Hibs have made me a better player - now I'm ready for the Premier League
The 20-year-old defender watched from afar as his parent club clinched the Championship title to seal an instant return to the English top flight. Egan-Riley spent over a decade in the Manchester City youth ranks before being signed by his former club-mate and idol Vincent Kompany last summer and made three appearances for the Clarets before moving to Easter Road in January.
The England youth international admits no decision has been made on his future as yet, with Hibs understood to be keen to retain his services next season, but if the decision is for him to stay with Burnley, then he believes he is ready to make his mark.
“I’m confident enough in my own ability to think I can go back to Burnley and compete to play in the Premier League," he said. “I’m always going to back myself and think I can play anywhere. Even with just one EPL game under my belt already, I know what the level is. I’m not saying I’ll go and light it up but I definitely feel I can go there, make an impact and have an effect on the Burnley team - if that’s what we agree to do."
Egan-Riley feels he has benefited from playing in a number of different positions for Hibs including spells at centre-back, right-back and defensive midfield. “I have definitely developed and improved," he said. "Every week there’s a new challenge here that helps me improve my game. It helps that I’ve played in some different positions because you get different tests against different players. It gives me more things to add to my toolbox as a footballer. If I can play in different positions, I’ll stand out from other players."
For now, Egan-Riley's full focus is on helping Hibs secure European football next season by negotiating a tough run-in of three league fixtures against Rangers, Celtic and Hearts across the next seven days. “I haven’t really thought extensively about the summer. I’m just focused on a massive week for myself and the club. Once next Saturday is done - and hopefully we get a win over Hearts - I’ll start to think about my next steps. Games against Rangers and Celtic is where Burnley will look at me closely. They want their players to step up in the biggest games so to have three huge games against the best sides in the league coming up - I can’t wait to show what I can do. Hopefully we can get some wins and finish as high up the table as possible."
While his own Hibs future is uncertain, Egan-Riley is confident the club can push on next season. “Yes, I have no doubt about that," he said. "The gaffer’s great, the lads are great. I sometimes look at players and think ‘wow’. We have real quality. Even since I’ve been here, the culture is stronger than when I arrived at the end of January. We had a little rough patch but we’re through that now. The way the club is going, with the owners and the CEO, is great. I think it’s only up from here.”
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