Veteran centre-back Darren McGregor feels Ryan Porteous has all the attributes needed to reach the very top, but warned all of Hibernian’s aspiring youngsters must focus on the here and now.
Scotland squad defender Porteous, 21, saw a proposed deadline-day move to Millwall fail to materialise after a £1million offer was turned down by the Scottish Premiership club.
Porteous has been on the bench for the past couple of matches, and was an unused substitute for last weekend’s 2-0 win over Aberdeen, which put Hibs five points clear in third place.
Former Rangers player McGregor, 35, sees no reason why the likes of Porteous – and forward Kevin Nisbet, who had been the subject of a proposed £2.5million switch to Birmingham – cannot go on to fulfil their potential, if they adopt the right mindset.
“It is difficult from his perspective, because he (Porteous) has not done a lot wrong,” McGregor said.
“There is speculation around him, and it is warranted because he is a top player.
“It is just about his reaction in times like this, how he reacts in a positive manner and that will stand him in good stead for later in his career.
“He has a great career in front of him, he just needs to keep learning and progressing, and if he does, I have no doubt he will be a top, top player.
“These younger guys should know, and I think they do, that it is hard work which gets you there.
“You can take your eye off the ball when you start thinking about this team or that team wanting me, then it can affect your current form, and the chances of you leaving.
“It is just about staying grounded and to be fair every young guy in this academy I have spoken to are.
“They deal with the here and now, which is the way you get moves in football.
“I am sure there will be opportunities for these guys, but first and foremost they are at Hibs.
“They need to work day in and day out to be the best person they can be, then the fruits of their labour will show in years to come.”
McGregor made his first league start in more than a year for the 1-0 home defeat by Rangers on January 27, when he was handed the armband by Hibs boss Jack Ross.
“It is difficult when you are out in the cold, looking from the outside in, but you need to park your selfishness and try to support the team,” said McGregor, who is expected to be in the backline again at Ross County on Saturday.
“I am sure the manager or the fans will tell me when they have had enough of me, but at present, I am enjoying every single game.
“I still feel I am contributing, so until that day comes where I feel like I am not, then I will just keep going.”