BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
FORMER Hibs and Scotland midfielder Scott Robertson reckons you will struggle to find two more deserving debutants than Dylan McGeouch and Lewis Stevenson after his old Easter Road teammates made their international bows in Peru.
The pair were handed starting berths as Alex McLeish fielded a new-look side in Lima, with the World Cup-bound hosts ultimately running out 2-0 winners thanks to a penalty by Christian Cueva and a Jefferson Farfan strike.
Nevertheless, neither Hibee disgraced themselves, with McGeouch one of the bright sparks in dark blue, turning in a typically tidy, composed display in the heart of midfield.
That comes as no surprise to Robertson, who ranks McGeouch as arguably the finest player he has ever shared a dressing room with and, having cast aside his injury woes, he firmly believes that maiden cap will prove to be the first of many for the in-demand playmaker.
“In terms of his calibre and quality, Dylan [McGeouch] is one of the best I’ve ever played alongside,” lauded Robertson, who turned out for Hibs between and 2013 and 2015.
“I genuinely believe he can make the Scotland shirt his own. He can adapt to whatever is around him, and whoever he is playing against. You just want to give him the ball because you know he won’t lose it, and that he’ll cause problems for the opposition.
“I think the higher the level, the better Dylan will be, because Scottish football can be a little hectic and not always conducive to good football. International football is the sort of stage he could really flourish in.
“It was just brilliant to watch him go through last season fully fit and show everyone just how good he was. He’s earned this the hard way with everything he’s gone through with his fitness.”
While Robertson has backed McGeouch to cement a midfield berth, Stevenson faces a tougher task to earn a spot at left-back, given he counts Andrew Robertson, Kieran Tierney and Barry Douglas among his competitors.
Nevertheless, Robertson was thrilled to see the ultimate professional finally pull on a Scotland shirt – an honour he is adamant was overdue.
“I could not be more chuffed for Lewis,” smiled Robertson. “I can’t remember him ever being injured, no-one works harder in training and he has seen off every competitor for his jersey that has come through the doors in the last 10 years!
“He has gone through some tough times like relegation and wage cuts he has never contemplated leaving Hibs when he could have and I’m delighted he has finally got the recognition for the consistency and longevity he has shown.
“Lewis also has that bit of quality which some people don’t realise, perhaps due to the sort of person he is. He isn’t flash, doesn’t talk himself up all the time or have the tattoos up his arms. He’s such a humble person – but the quality is there and it was only right that he got his chance.
“He leads by example in how he conducts himself and I can’t think of a better role model for young players coming through.”
Robertson knows the swelling pride the Hibs duo – and fellow debutants Jordan Archer, Stephen O’Donnell, Chris Cadden, Graeme Shinnie and Lewis Morgan – will be feeling, having won two caps of his own, the first coming against Argentina at Hampden in 2008.
“It’s something I will never forget, and I’m sure those lads will be the same,” added Robertson. “It’s a huge high point in my career, stepping onto the pitch with guys like Javier Zanetti, [Carlos] Tevez and Gabriel Heinze. Those experiences of international football are something to cherish forever.”