Scot Gemmill wants Hibs defender Ryan Porteous to keep combative edge

Centre-half’s aggression can help him be successful if he channels it in the right way, says Scotland U21 boss

Wednesday, 23rd September 2020, 9:09 pm
Hibs defender Ryan Porteous, left, clashes with Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos during Sunday's 2-2 draw. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
Hibs defender Ryan Porteous, left, clashes with Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos during Sunday's 2-2 draw. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

Scotland Under-21 manager Scot Gemmill has urged Ryan Porteous to retain his aggressive streak – insisting it is a key component if the Hibernian defender wants to make it to the top.

Easter Road centre-half Porteous trod a fine line again during Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Rangers.

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He was booked for an off-the-ball-barge on Alfredo Morelos then got himself involved in a spat at the final whistle with Rangers skipper James Tavernier and boss Steven Gerrard as they snubbed his offer of a handshake.

Gerrard claimed the 21-year-old had accused Tavernier of being a “bad loser” – an accusation he then redirected at Porteous as he brought up last year’s red card tackle on Borna Barisic.

But Gemmill, who has named Porteous in his squad for next month’s European Championship qualifying double header with the Czech Republic and San Marino, reckons that aggressive edge is crucial at the elite level.

He said: “Ryan’s proving he is a real competitor and his performances show that.

“Whether he is playing for us or for his club, he is a really solid defender. But he’s got real character and real presence.

“I think it’s about the balance and he’s very conscious of the need to really channel that aggression and the way he uses his physicality when he plays.

“At the same time we all want our players to have character and resilience, determination and ambition.

“So Ryan just needs to find that balance but I think we need to look to the positives for sure. We crave that in our top players.

“I don’t think you can be a top player without having that edge. You have to take it personally. I speak to the players about this before every game. Your opponent is trying to beat you and embarrass you, so you have to take it personally.

“I love to see that [aggressive streak] in the team. You need to have it to be successful.”

The Scots can move to within a point of top spot of Group D with victory over the leading Czechs at Tynecastle on 9 October. But Gemmill knows his side will have to prove they can cope with the pressure first.

“Playing the Czech Republic was always going to be a really big game, regardless of the circumstances,” said Gemmill, who has also handed West Ham defender Harrison Ashby a maiden call-up.

“But we want our young players to have that experience of playing against the best opposition we can.

“I think dealing with the pressure of what is at stake is an important part of joining up with the squad.

“These boys are all trying to push towards the full squad and I think it’s as much about dealing with that sense of occasion when you play for the country as it is with the fact that every result matters.

“There is no free pass, every game and performance is scrutinised collectively as a team and as individuals.

“They need to show they can handle that every time they pull on a dark blue jersey, no matter the circumstances.”

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