|Ukraine U21s v Scotland U21s. European Under-21 Championship qualifier|
|Date: 12 Oct Time: 17:00 BST Venue: Obolon Arena, Kiev|
Imagine being 19 and able to call Andy Murray for advice. Imagine being able to ask the three-time Grand Slam tennis champion how to prepare, to perform, to recover. Imagine having him ask you about your career.
“He’s probably the best role model you can take from Scotland,” says Hibernian and Scotland under-21 defender Ryan Porteous.
Murray is an official mentor to the entire Hibs academy, but his sports management agency also represents Porteous, which means he has special access to some special sporting advice.
So can he just pick up the phone to him whenever he likes?
“Aye, definitely,” says Porteous, whose team-mate, Fraser Murray, is in a similarly privileged position.
“He said, if you feel you need to talk about anything or need any tips, he’ll be there. It’s brilliant to have that close relationship with someone so big. He’s a world icon.”
The Easter Road duo even went down to Wimbledon, where Hibs fans Murray quizzed them on their training regimes – both in and out of season – and gave them “lots of advice about how to live life right”.
Can Hibs win the title?
Porteous is clearly heeding that advice, having managed to firmly establish himself in the first team at Hibs this season.
The Dalkeith teenager has started seven of the club’s eight Scottish Premiership matches this term, with the side currently second in the division, and has made himself a fixture in the Scotland under-21 team.
Further down the line, the lifelong Hibs fan would love to captain the club, but what about his targets for this season? Could Hibs win the league?
“I’d imagine you’d have to ask the gaffer at Christmas time and then we would see where we are from there,” he says, speaking like a veteran.
“After eight games, I doubt anyone would have thought Hearts, Hibs and Livingston would be in the top four. It’s probably the most challenging top flight in years.
“There’s it’s a long way to go in the season. Hopefully we can just win as many as we can.”
‘Gemmill can trust young Scots’
Porteous is imposing and strong in the challenge. So strong that he has already burst two footballs during matches in his fledgling career.
Fellow Hibs defender Darren McGregor lauded him as being “light years” ahead of where he was at the same age and Porteous is one of several in the national under-21 side with significant experience of first-team football.
That nous, he hopes, can aid their chances of qualifying for the Under-21 European Championships in Italy next year.
Realistically, Scot Gemmill’s side would have to win in Ukraine on Friday, then beat England at Tynecastle on Tuesday, to reach the play-offs, but Porteous says the coach can “trust” his players.
“When you’ve got players such as David Bates, who is at Hamburg and has played for Rangers, you’ve got players who have played 30 or 40 first-team games and are trustworthy in a first team,” he adds.
“Scot can trust us because we’re playing first-team football.”