Jack Ross has vowed he will help Hibernian stars Ryan Porteous and Kevin Nisbet get the big moves they crave – when the time is right.
The Easter Road boss was relieved to see both youngsters were still part of his squad for the 2-1 win at St Mirren – sparked by Porteous’ opener – after having to fend off late interest late before Monday’s transfer deadline.
Millwall were unsuccessful with a £1million offer for Scotland squad defender Porteous while Birmingham’s attempt to lure striker Nisbet south with a package that included wages of £10,000 a week also failed as their £2.5million bid was rejected.
It was reported that Nisbet was unhappy when he was denied the chance to speak to the Blues, reportedly even handing in a transfer request.
But Ross can understand the young pair’s desire to progress their career and has promised to do all he can to make sure they reach the next level.
The Leith boss – whose side now move up to third place after Martin Boyle’s penalty sealed victory in Paisley – said: “They’ve had good seasons to date and that’s why there was interest in them. I’m quite sure the situation will arise again in the summer if they play like they have done.
“Part of my job is to make them better and get them to where they want to be in their career, whether that’s international recognition or getting greater rewards.
“It’s my job to improve them and we have worked hard with both of them. It was about reminding them of that and I think they trust us and you could see that tonight.”
Ross named both players on the bench for the second game running.
But 21-year-old Porteous showed he is ready to knuckle down as he headed home the opener 10 minutes after being introduced at half-time for Darren McGregor.
Ross made that change as he looked to make the most of his side’s extra man after St Mirren keeper Jak Alnwick had been dismissed before the break for dragging down Boyle outside his box.
Boyle then tucked home a spot-kick with 20 minutes left and Ross was pleased with the contribution both Nisbet and Porteous made after a week of speculation.
He said: “It’s not easy to deal with but now it’s about a refocus of the remainder of the season for them.
“Once they woke up this morning they knew they had a job to do for us for the rest of the season.”
Asked to confirm if Nisbet, 23, had submitted a request to leave, Ross would only say: “People from afar can be critical but when there is potential for life-changing financial rewards, anyone in any line of work’s heads would be spinning at that.
“He’s very young and he’s had a lot to deal with this season so we have got to be sympathetic and understanding about that.”
Saints were looking to build on last week’s impressive wins over Dundee United and Celtic.
But their hopes were wrecked when Jake Doyle-Hayes’ horror back-pass left Alnwick in trouble, forcing him to bundle over Boyle.
Jon Obika did pull a goal back late on but boss Jim Goodwin said: “It’s disappointing.
“At 11 versus 11 I thought we were the better team. We were well on top in the game and created some good chances.
“So when you find yourself with a man less it becomes a very long evening for you unfortunately.
“We encourage the boys if it’s not on to go forward to start again. We have a goalkeeper who’s very comfortable with the ball at his feet but it was a poor pass back from Jake and he accepts that.
“Jak came initially and then stopped and then came again. Sometimes these decisions are made and there’s not a great deal you can do about it.
“But Dean Lyness came in and I thought he was excellent. He looked really assured and his distribution was excellent.
“We caused them a few nervy moments at the end but we just didn’t get the breaks unfortunately.”