By: Hibernian Media on 20 Mar, 2020 18:52
In a parallel universe Ryan Porteous would be gearing up for a return to full training.
After stepping up his comeback from a knee injury that’s kept the Academy graduate sidelined since our Scottish Cup head to head with Dundee United at Tannadice, he’d have boosted a squad looking to clinch a top-six spot and push on from there.
The 20-year-old would have had one eye on another senior Scotland call-up, hoping it would lead to a dream appearance at Euro 2020.
Like the rest of us, instead he’s had his world upside-down and is looking into a period of uncertainty.
But he’ll approach it with the same characteristic determination.
Hibs TV caught up with Ryan at Easter Road earlier this week and you can watch his interview in full on Hibs TV and our YouTube channel.
Ryan, this should have been a straightforward interview and some good news about your comeback from injury, but things have obviously become a bit surreal.
I should have been back on the grass training on the day after we were told not to go back into HTC, so you can say it’s bad timing from that point of view. It could be a blessing in disguise that I’ll come back when everyone else is ready and I should be fully fit.
If it wasn’t for the postponements, how far away from playing do you think you would have been?
I think they were in the process or organising a few Development Squad games for during the international break so that I could get some game-time and then, hopefully, from the start of April I’d have been in contention to make the squad and possibly play.
No doubt it’s been a hard slog for you over the past few months…
Definitely. When I picked up my injury last year that was a new experience for me. So, this time I was at least used to having to do the same thing every day, so it wasn’t too bad. This time around it’s a shorter rehab, but you’re still doing the same things. It gets really repetitive and boring. Especially when you don’t have Martin Boyle by your side to go through it with you! It’s tough but it’s part and parcel of football. You have to get on with it, deal with it and now I have the chance to be fully fit when everyone is ready.
Has it been easier at all second time around for you?
It’s felt a lot quicker this time because I had that target of knowing I could be back before the end of the season. It was dangling a carrot for me. For that to have been taken away, with everything that’s happening, is hard to take. But I’m trying to look at the positives.
Earning another Scotland call-up would have been a target as well…
I would have loved to have been involved with the Under-21s because we still have the chance to be involved in something special with that. There have been a few injuries within the senior team so if I’d been back playing you never know, I might have been in contention. But it’s something I can work towards now and strive to get to.
For all your plans for club and country, your life has been turned upside-down just now like everyone else?
Exactly. I’m no different. Everyone has jobs that they need to do and a lot of people are being told to work from home. Not everyone can do that. I’m in a fortunate position in that we’ve been given time off, told to stay away and look after our families. I’m still working closely with our physio and catching up on my rehab. That’s kept me ticking over and means I’ll be ready when we come back.
How do you get your head around being out of your routine, missing that daily interaction but still having to keep fit with the other players?
Everyone has to remember that we’re still professions and we’re paid to stay fit. There’s definitely ways of doing that by getting your head down, whether it’s running or a home gym. It’s maybe mentally tough but we’re professionals.
You mentioned before we started that it would be difficult for you not be able to play football – something you’ve been doing since you were old enough to walk.
You’ve seen some examples in England when boys have been told to stay off but have ended up playing five-a-sides with their mates because they miss it so much. I’ve not kicked a ball for a couple of months and I’m desperate to do it. Hopefully, having worked with the physio, I’ll be in a position to do it soon.
You popped into Easter Road Stadium briefly for this chat. As someone who has grown up supporting Hibernian in this city, was is strange to see the place so quiet?
It was a strange feeling. It’s new for every footballer. The club’s been a big part of my life and the same goes for my family and friends. No-one knows what to do. It’s not a situation we’ve been in before. We need to stay occupied until football’s back, but it will be back. It won’t be long until Easter Road is sold out again.
It does remind people how much the club and the sport itself means to people.
You planned your week around it. At the start of the week you’re reflecting on the last result, whether it was good or bad, and taking stick from your mates. Then you think ‘who do we have next?’. When you have big fixtures coming up, a Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden against your big rivals and potentially top-six games against Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen – these are the games you want to be playing in or watching. It doesn’t feel fair but everyone’s going through the same thing – in every walk of life.
Football almost becomes that little bit more important for people because it offers a distraction.
Definitely. For a lot of people, as soon as you go to a game you’re in your own little world. You focus on Hibs and it maybe takes your worries away for a bit. It’s the same for players. Maybe you’re going through a tough time but as soon as you step on the pitch you forget about everything. Football does help countless people, all over the world. That’s the main reason it’ll be missed but we all have to chip in and help each other out.
Have you allowed yourself to think about what that first game back might be like?
It’s only been a week and we’re feeling it already. Can you imagine the feeling going into the Scottish Cup semi-final against Hearts? When results aren’t going your way, for whatever reason, maybe some fans don’t come for certain reasons. But when it’s taken away from you, you want it more. Everyone will be back in their numbers. It’ll be a great feeling walking back out there again.