Ryan Porteous, Hibs and the inevitable parting of ways after sparkling Scotland debut amid contract deadlock

There will have been pride but there will also have been elevated levels of concern at Hibs as Ryan Porteous made a Scotland debut worth savouring.

A young man they have backed and nurtured as a player and a person, he took his long-awaited international bow against Ukraine and justified the Leith club’s faith, turning in a man of the match performance to, at least temporarily, silence his critics.

Already keen to sign him up on an extended deal beyond the end of this season, Hibs will wonder if their moment has passed.

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An offer has been made but the young centre-back stated that he wanted to knuckle down and focus on the here and now. It also allowed him to weigh up any other options. After Tuesday night’s performance, those choices will have surely multiplied and his days at Hibs could be numbered.

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The Easter Road bosses will be keen to remind him that playing for Hibs has not served as an inhibitor to ambition thus far, in terms of catching Steve Clarke’s eye and guiding him towards that special night in Krakow, but they will be realistic, in terms of the financial incentives they can offer and their role as a stepping stone.

Highly-rated within the club, they had hoped that when the penny finally dropped with the wider football world, they would be the ones to cash in, though.

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A player with undoubted ability, he has worked on honing the raw talent. Able to win tackles, read the game and also play out from the back with the kind of passing accuracy many in front of him would be proud of, against Ukraine his debut was rammed full of the maturity his detractors claim he does not possess.

Thrown into a relatively-inexperienced backline, with so much at stake, there was no flickering of self-doubt. With Porteous, there rarely ever is. Certainly not in recent times, when his levels have been consistently high.

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Hibs defender Ryan Porteous produced an impressive display for Scotland on his international debut. (Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images)

Even when learning his trade he backed himself to come out on top. Sometimes, in those early days he tried too hard to convince others. It sometimes came off as reckless but he has refined his play and earned Tuesday night’s cap. His performance should earn him many more.

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Alongside Jack Hendry, Aaron Hickey and Greg Taylor, they displayed a positional discipline that tends to take months to drill into defences. They held their nerve and their line.

Showing superb concentration, he weighed in with more completed passes (36), interceptions and tackles than any of his team-mates on the night, including the vital last-ditch challenge on Oleksandr Zubkov in the dying minutes.

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He hasn’t lost any of his passion or will to win, he has just learned to harness the emotion and, in a week when the collective might of Clarke’s squad proved pivotal, Porteous’ performance earned him a clutch of headlines.This time it was for all the right reasons.

Shutting out the noise of Jim Goodwin’s recent cheating accusations and the storm those kinds of things tend to whip up on social media when the Hibs academy graduate is involved, he did not look out of place on the international stage.

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Those who feared he might have been the weak link were silenced. And, boy, did he look happy about that.



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