Ryan Porteous backed to be Hibs leader at Hampden as derby hero sounds note of caution

Ryan Porteous’ leadership qualities could help Hibs elevate their cup performance this weekend and prevent a repeat of their second half performance in last Saturday’s Premiership derby defeat.

The Easter Road club failed to compete as they gave away their early advantage, losing 3-1 to slump into the bottom half of the league but with the teams gearing up for their second successive meeting, this time at Hampden, former player and manager Mixu Paatelainen believes the return of the 23-year-old centre-half could make a difference.

“He is a strong player for them. A leader at the back and he demands from others. It is important when you play that there is someone who whips everyone else – you need that.

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“Players develop differently. Some are young but are leaders – Scott Brown was young at Hibs but he was a leader, which I spotted early doors. Some develop that leadership later in their career. It is important that players stand up for that role and you have guys who whip the others as well as encourage and support. The more the merrier. Ryan is still relatively young.“

Ryan Porteous (left) will return to Hibs' line-up for the Scottish Cup semi-final against Hearts after missing the 3-1 defeat at Tynecastle due to suspension. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

And, having enjoyed success in derbies during his playing days in Leith, he says there has to be a balance struck between being competitive and reckless.

“I was not a dirty player but I put myself about. I used to psyche myself up. Come the first challenge with the centre-half I would let him know I was there because it is a mental game as well. When the goalkeeper comes for the ball you go and challenge for the ball, fairly then when that second cross comes he might think ‘oh, that big bugger is coming again.

“But you must also be careful how much you psych yourself up, it can go overboard - especially in derbies. Hearts are traditionally a physical team and Hibs more a passing team so Hearts will be here, they’ll be up for it and it’s up to the Hibs players to stand up and make sure they match Hearts.

“But you have to have that balance and that right amount of goosebumps. Don’t be stupid but be there.”

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