Ryan Porteous: Udinese facing battle for Hibs defender as Belgian club and Championship outfits retain interest

Hibs' Ryan Porteous celebrates at full time during the 3-2 win over Motherwell.Hibs' Ryan Porteous celebrates at full time during the 3-2 win over Motherwell.
Hibs' Ryan Porteous celebrates at full time during the 3-2 win over Motherwell.
Udinese face competition from a handful of clubs both in England and overseas for the signature of Hibs defender Ryan Porteous

The Italian Serie A outfit last week emerged as one of the main contenders for the 23-year-old Scottish defender, who is out of contract at the end of the season and has told Hibs that he will not stay beyond the summer despite numerous renewal offers. And while Udinese still retain a desire to secure Porteous’ services, they are not the only club on the continent eyeing up a move. Belgian side Oostende, who are struggling at the wrong end of the Jupiler League and are currently in the relegation zone, have long been admirers of the centre-half and plan to invest in their squad this month. There remains suitors in the English Championship too, with Millwall, Hull City and Sunderland all linked with the player.

Porteous returned from suspension on Sunday to help Hibs record a much-needed victory in the cinch Premiership against Motherwell. He remains a key part of manager Lee Johnson’s squad and while Hibs are keen to recoup some money for him in January and will listen to offers, he will continue to play for the team until told otherwise. “I’m not sure about Ryan’s situation,” Johnson said in the wake of the victory at Fir Park. “I’m just trying to focus on the games while [chief executive] Ben Kensell and [head of recruitment] Ian Gordon work away in the background. I’m obviously a part of it and add valued opinion but full focus has been on the Motherwell game. Ryan is a quality player, simple as that. We would have played him against Hearts if he was available, he was available for Motherwell, and I wanted him to play.”

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Porteous is not the only player set for the exit door at Hibs, with Johnson keen to slim down his squad. He has spoken about moving people on in the wake of some recent poor form, but so far only striker Momodou Bojang has departed from the first team after his loan deal with FC Rainbow was cut short. The Hibees boss is also still hopeful of making one or two key additions for the second half of the season.