Hibs put themselves 'at risk' of losing Ryan Porteous as Lee Johnson urges club to 'remedy' situation

Hibs manager Lee Johnson has urged the club to push the boat out in an attempt to keep Ryan Porteous after admitting the Scotland defender should have been rewarded with an improved contract sooner.

The 23-year-old centre-back made his senior international debut in Krakow in midweek and earned widespread praise for a heroic performance as Steve Clarke’s side drew 0-0 with Ukraine to finish top of their Nations League group.

Porteous, who came through the ranks at Easter Road, runs out of contract at the end of this season, though the Hibs hierarchy are due to meet his representatives next week as they step up their bid to keep him at the club.

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Millwall failed with a £1million bid for the centre-back in January 2021 while other clubs in England, as well as Turkey and Russia, have also been credited with keeping tabs on the Dalkeith-born defender.

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Johnson accepted that his impressive Scotland showing could make it harder for Hibs to tie Porteous down on a new deal, but also admitted that the club are partly to blame for the situation they now find themselves in.

"We’ll have to offer him a very strong deal," acknowledged the Hibs boss.

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"He has been at the club a long time and potentially hasn’t been - in my opinion - bumped up quick enough to maintain the importance of the players. That’s where we’ve put ourselves at risk a little bit and we have to try and remedy that.

"In football you have the injury risk as well, you can choose to ride it out and go until the end of the season but it doesn’t stop you moving anyway if the deal is right.

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Ryan Porteous back in Hibs training following his impressive Scotland debut. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

"When you go when someone has come and bought you, then everybody wins and that’s what we’re trying to get to the point that we don’t want Hibs to lose out through maybe not planning as well as we could have two, three, four, five, six years ago. It doesn’t matter and now we can control the controllables."

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On encouraging the Hibs board to make the player the best offer possible, Johnson added: “He deserves it.

"We want players who have done well, getting international honours - we don’t want to undercut them.

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"We want to show the academy this is what you can do and earn as long as you’ve produced for the football club.

"Ryan is right at the top end of that."

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The praise Porteous earned following his first cap for Scotland is in stark contrast to the criticism that is often attached to the defender – by fans of other clubs it must be noted – and came just two weeks after he was accused of "blatant cheating" by Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin.

"I was super pleased for Ryan, I could tell in his tone how proud he was, it’s been a big focus for him in terms of his training and that goal," Johnson added.

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"He’s been in squads and not quite picked up the minutes. The country has shown the trust in Ryan and he has produced and paid that back in spades.

"I love him as a lad, desperate for him to do well and that’s a big marker in terms of what he can do."

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Porteous had conceded prior to the international break that his performances this season could have been better but Johnson insists that he has been pleased with him.

"I think we’ve seen that, there have been errors but we’re a new team. We have had conversations about the priority order of what he is and what he needs to be.

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"I think he is in a good place, he’s had a great pre-season and consistency of games.

"He is one of the first names on the team-mates, we’ve given him leadership responsibilities and we’ve seen them improve.

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"At times we demand he concentrates a bit more on the finer details but he’s a good character and taking it all in."

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