BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
RYAN PORTEOUS insists there is no better place for a youngster to progress in Scotland than Easter Road after hailing Hibernian’s centre-backs as the best in the country.
Porteous and fellow academy product Fraser Murray yesterday signed new deals with the capital club until the summer of 2023 as Neil Lennon moved to tie down two of his brightest prospects.
While the Hibees have high hopes for Murray, Porteous is already firmly established as a first-team regular, with the 19-year-old starring in the Premiership and Europa League during his 14 outings this term.
The former Edinburgh City loanee has also emerged as a mainstay for Scotland’s under-21 side despite being younger than the vast majority of his teammates in that age group.
And boyhood Hibs fan Porteous is adamant it was an easy decision to extend his deal as he continues to shine and learn alongside the likes of Efe Ambrose, Paul Hanlon and Darren McGregor.
He lauded: “I don’t think there is a better place to develop in Scotland, particularly as a young centre-half.
“We arguably have the best centre-halves in Scotland in our dressing room, the best professionals and a great coaching staff that have really helped me kick on in the last few years. Hopefully this long-term deal will help me progress even more.
“It [Hibs] is a place that has every single platform needed to make a young player become the best they possibly can be and I needed no extra encouragement to stay here.
“I know all the benefits of being here from being around the club full-time for the last three years and I want to keep developing with those facilities and the coaches here.”
Porteous readily admits it felt ‘surreal’ to step up to Hibs’ senior side last season, making his competitive debut in a Betfred Cup win over Montrose in July 2017.
However, dauntless defender soon shook off that sense of disbelief to enjoy a further nine outings, scoring three goals. Porteous even put in a man-of-the-match display in a memorable 2-1 victory against Rangers at Ibrox back in February.
“But now that I am playing, you are fighting to keep the jersey and hold on to your place in the team.
“You’ve got to put that initial feeling to one side and show you can stand out in training. Hopefully I’ve done that over the last few weeks and months and can get even more games under my belt.”
Away from the pitch, Porteous has the perfect mentor to draw upon in the form of Scottish sporting icon Andy Murray.
Porteous and Fraser Murray are both on the books of a management company run by the tennis legend – and renowned Hibs fan – and he is proving to be the perfect man to have on speed-dial.
Porteous told Hibs TV: “You look at where he started and where he got to and that’s all through hard work and determination. You have to take someone like that as a role model. It is great to have people like that to turn to for a bit of advice or just for someone to talk to.”
Meanwhile, Lennon insists Porteous is an old head on young shoulders as he lauded the progress made by the stopped during his tenure at Easter Road.
“Ryan is big, strong and extremely comfortable on the ball. He has shown a maturity beyond his years in my time at the club, but there is still a raw edge to him that will erode over time.”