Hibs' Paul McGinn speaks on Scotland prospects, self-belief and St Johnstone test

Defender has impressed for Easter Road side so far this season

Friday, 21st August 2020, 10:30 pm
Paul McGinn admits it would be a dream to play alongside brother John for Scotland
Paul McGinn admits it would be a dream to play alongside brother John for Scotland

Hibs defender Paul McGinn would be “very proud” to play alongside brother John for his country - but right now, the only focus for him is playing well for his club.

The right-back’s performance was highlighted by his Motherwell counterpart Stephen O’Donnell following the goalless encounter between the two clubs last Saturday. While the former Kilmarnock man discussed his own hopes of featuring for the national team in the Nations League matches against Israel and the Czech Republic next month, he was quick to talk up his opponent’s merits.

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McGinn said: “That was nice of Stephen – I thought he was excellent as well! John is always on the phone saying I can’t be far away now [from the Scotland squad].

"I try not to read too much into it since he’s biased. I’ll just keep playing well for Hibs."

John, the youngest of the three McGinn brothers, made his Scotland debut while he was playing for Hibs in the Scottish Championship and is now a regular starter with seven goals in 21 appearances.

Eldest sibling Stephen, who joined Hibs for pre-season and has been combining training sessions with coaching at the Capital club, was never capped at senior level but did turn out for his country at Under-19 and Under-21 level.

Middle brother Paul is the only brother without any international experience, but given Scotland don’t enjoy the same embarrassment of riches at right-back as they do at left-back, the prospect of a call-up may not be that far-fetched.

Playing regularly for a team performing well and sitting near the top of the table won’t do his chances any harm either.

McGinn continued: "Because I’m at Hibs now, there are a lot more eyes on it so my chances increase, don’t they?

"It’s just one of those things. First and foremost, if I play well then I’m sure Steve Clarke will be watching.”

The chance of playing alongside his younger brother must rank fairly high on his football bucket list?

“I probably grew up desperate to do that. I would be really proud. If I keep playing well I’ll give myself the best chance of doing so.”

The former St Mirren defender has been a steady performer so far this term and part of a miserly defence to concede just twice in four matches with neither goal coming from open play.

The emergence of 18-year-old Josh Doig on the other end of the back four has perhaps seen McGinn nudged out of the limelight even more than normal.

Head coach Jack Ross insisted earlier this season that the 29-year-old had been “as reliable as any full-back in the league” but rarely made headlines for his performances.

By the player’s own admission he has grown as a footballer since joining Hibs in January.

McGinn added: “When I first played at Dundee I was playing really well but I didn’t have that comfort or belief on the ball and when I look back, I think, ‘why didn't I?’

"It’s just the way it is with youth. I’m at an age now where I’ve played a lot of games and can relax; it makes the game more easier.

"I’m playing well so hopefully it continues.”

Last week's draw with Motherwell was a second consecutive clean sheet for a defence often criticised for its porousness last season.

McGinn continued: “It was probably good that the gaffer came in after and said, ‘don’t get bogged down that we weren't great. You’ve had a great start, these things are going to happen – Motherwell are no mugs'.

“It’s easy to get into the habit of winning. We don’t want to get carried away, but our expectations are that we want to win and if anyone else wants to win at Easter Road, they need to play really well.”

Sunday’s trip to Perth to face St Johnstone is the second time Hibs face the Saints at McDiarmid Park in just over a month.

The two teams played out a 0-0 draw in a pre-season bounce game but McGinn expects a tough test from Callum Davidson’s side.

McGinn explained: "I came on for the last half an hour [in the pre-season friendly] and they were really good that day so we know it will be tough.

“They’re always so hard to beat. In the last season or two they’ve had a young defence but they’ve been working a lot and the manager has got that back three really tight now.

“I watched their match with Aberdeen and thought they were the better team, they were perhaps lacking in creativity but they’ll be working on that between now and Sunday.”

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