Hibs stick together after testing fortnight for playing staff

The international break has been a difficult period for Hibs defender Ryan Porteous, but the way the side’s last outing, at Ibrox, panned out has meant that the wait for the next game has felt interminable for many of his colleagues as well.

Joe Newell scored for Hibs against Dundee United last time the teams met.

Unbeaten in their first seven league games, with four wins and three draws, the defeat at the hands of the reigning champions was the first domestic loss of the season and, according to midfielder Joe Newell, it has been a hard one to push aside due to the lull in Premiership proceedings.

“It’s never ideal going into the break after a loss,” said the midfielder. “When you lose you want your next game as soon as possible to try and get over it.

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“It’s been a bit annoying but it’s given us a chance to work on a few things. We’ve been back in training, working hard, and we feel we’re heading in the right direction.

“We started really well against Rangers and we got the goal and things were looking good but the red card changed the game. Had it not been for that I think we would have won it. So there are loads of positives to take. We were disappointed but we’re looking to bounce back straight away.”

Porteous will be an absentee for the games against Dundee United at Easter Road today and for next week’s trip to face Aberdeen.

But the Hibs players have been quick to rally round the suspended 22-year-old defender after being sickened by the level of abuse directed to him following his red card.

“It’s been disgraceful to be honest, some of the stuff he’s had to deal with. If you walk past them on the street they wouldn’t look at you but they will have a go at you online. Some of the stuff that’s been said is horrible, shocking to be honest. Ryan is a strong lad mentally and he’ll get by I know for sure.

“While I say he’s mentally strong it would upset anyone the stuff he’s had to put up with but he has the support of the club, the staff and his team-mates. We are all right behind him.

“We’ve got our squad group chats and Ryan is good mates with a lot of us so there’s been plenty of reaching out to him.

“Sadly I wasn’t surprised by the level of it and that says it all.”

Finding a way to get back to winning ways would bolster the mood in camp and, having beaten the Tannadice side in cup competition last month, with ‘free-scoring’ Newell, as he christened himself after claiming his first goal of the season that night, setting them on their way and Scott Allan and Martin Boyle polishing the final scoreline, they know they have what it takes to come out on top.

“It’s a part of my game I know I can improve on,” said Newell of his one-goal a season average. “I know I should be doing better. I need to get myself in those positions more often and help the lads out.

“We know how big this game is and how good a side Dundee United are and the challenges they’ll give us. At home, we fully want a win to put that marker back down.”