Right back in it

HIBS star Jay Shields appears poised to win a new contract after the Easter Road outfit's horrendous injury-list handed him a late chance to impress boss Tony Mowbray.

The 21-year-old looked destined to leave the club when his current deal expired at the end of the season with Shields having been unable to force his way beyond a seat on the bench. But with a spate of injuries having forced Mowbray into reshuffling his side with Scotland Under-21 star Steven Whittaker being pushed into midfield, Shields has starred at right-back in Hibs' last two matches against Kilmarnock and Aberdeen.

Today, Mowbray revealed Shields' performances had caught his eye and although no contract talks are yet planned, the Hibs boss added: "He's done himself no harm in our last couple of games.

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"Football is all about opportunities and because of our player availability - or rather lackof it - Jay got a chance he might not have seen coming. He's taken that opportunity, he's applied himself very well, he's got a good attitude and is a very determined character. He's also shown everyone he can cope in the SPL."

Although Shields, pictured below, was originally cast as a central midfielder, Mowbray believes his best position is at right-back. He said: "We've been working with him to turn him into a right-back for a while. He went out on loan at Berwick Rangers for the first half of the season but the reason we brought him back was that he was playing central midfield there while we felt his best position, for us at least, was at right-back. Jay is very versatile, he has good energy levels, has quick feet, he's very tenacious and moving on hopefully he can progress in that position."

Shields' performances, should further opportunities present themselves over the final games of the season, will obviously have a bearing on Mowbray's thinking on a player who is a self-confessed Hibs fan and one, as he revealed in the Evening News earlier this week, who is desperate to stay at Easter Road.

Asked if there was the possibility of a new deal for the player, Mowbray said: "We don't need to address that at the moment but we will be addressing the situation over the next few weeks but Jay has done himself no harm."