Ryan Porteous' Scotland call-up gives Hibs youngster's extra incentive ahead of UEFA Youth League tie

For Hibs, their UEFA Youth League tie with Molde is about more than simply putting themselves in a position to progress in the tournament, it serves as an opportunity for the young players to progress their individual development.

That is the view of Hibs academy director Steve Kean, who is in Norway for the teenagers’ first leg match. The hope is that they will do enough to give themselves the chance to advance when they play the second leg at Easter Road early next month and that the experience will also help in the cultivation of successful careers.

“We want to get through but we’re also thinking about the players’ individual development,” said Kean, who believes the Leith side have a tactical plan that will not only minimise Molde's opportunities but also exploit the opposition’s vulnerabilities.

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“Our boys, who were last year’s under 18s, are now in a different phase. They are development players looking to be training with the first team as often as possible and even pushing to get onto the bench.

Hibs Academy Director Steve Kean during a training sesssion. Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group
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“When you are fronting it up one v one on a stage like this against players who are playing for their international team and have been in and around their first team then it’s a good test of where we are.”

The European adventure is reward for ending last season as U-18 champions but there are further incentives for the youngsters, with past academy graduate Ryan Porteous named in Steve Clarke’s latest Scotland squad.

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“Yeah, you've got Ryan, and you've got Josh Campbell who, not too long ago, were Hibs academy players, then there's Lewis Stevenson and Paul Hanlon who were academy players a long time ago.

"Certainly in Ryan and Josh we see two players who were playing in youth tournaments not that long ago so a great example for Jacob Blaney and Kanayo Megwa as centre-backs.

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"Then there's Owen Hastie who can look at Josh Campbell sometimes playing out of position at full-back - we've asked Owen to play at left-back, left-sided centre-back, left-wingback and he's gone and done that really well, so he can take inspiration from Josh.

"These first-team players who have come through our system are great role models for us pushing the academy players to get up and alongside them in the senior squad."

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