'I honestly don't think he will go before the Hearts game': Hibs Ryan Porteous likely to play Scottish Cup derby

Ryan Porteous trains ahead of Hibs' match against Dundee United on Saturday.Ryan Porteous trains ahead of Hibs' match against Dundee United on Saturday.
Ryan Porteous trains ahead of Hibs' match against Dundee United on Saturday.
Hibs expect to hold onto Ryan Porteous long enough to include him in their plans for the upcoming Scottish Cup tie against capital rivals Hearts, but their manager Lee Johnson admits he will not have the final say on whether the Scotland defender departs the club now or in the summer.

Academy graduate Porteous will become a free agent at the end of this season, having turned down a new deal to remain at the Easter Road club. That allows him to sign a pre-contract elsewhere and with clubs from France, Italy, and down south leading a long list of interested parties, chief executive Ben Kensell has revealed that Hibs are keen to cash in while they still can, making it ‘likely’ that the 23-year-old will move on during the current transfer window.

Johnson, who gave Porteous a leadership position at the start of the current campaign and has made it clear that he is unhappy that the club permitted one of their prize assets to just wind down their existing deal, says he would obviously prefer to have him in his team for as long as possible. Acknowledging there are financial decisions to be made, he conceded they are not always clear-cut and said the club will have to weigh up the value of any bid with the cost to Hibs ambitions if he is missing from the line-up between now and the end of the term.

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In a league that remains too close to call from week to week, and with so many clubs jostling for position, every placing dropped represents a monetary hit, while the difference between top six and bottom six in terms of gate receipts and hospitality etc is also telling.

"I'm not the person at this football club who will decide any transfer fee,” said Johnson. “Obviously I'll advise, and I'd rather have him in the team than not, but there are a number of factors – the player himself, the agent, the club. That will depend on negotiations and Ryan's prerogative to sign a pre-contract and stay here if the club doesn't accept an offer and move in the summer, or if the deal is right for the club and we can use the finances and resources better given every bit of information. I honestly don't think he will go before the Hearts game, based on the information I've got at this moment in time, but obviously I could be wrong."

Another player who could remain at the club beyond the January transfer window is midfielder Jake Doyle-Hayes. The fit-again Irishman, who returns to the squad for Saturday’s match against Dundee United, had been the target of a bid from Forest Green. The clubs had agreed a transfer fee but Johnson, who dismissed reports Wigan are in for Demi Mitchell, revealed that the 24-year-old former Aston Villa product had chosen to knock it on the head.

And, while there remains further interest, the manager made it clear that Doyle-Hayes is not one of the players he has deemed surplus to requirements. “Forest Green is not happening. But there is interest in Jake. He's not one that I've been actively saying, 'I want him out of the club'. He is a good football player and I think me and my coaching staff can improve him.”