Hibernian: Penny will drop with Islam Feruz, hopes Alan Stubbs

Islam Feruz
Islam Feruz played 18 minutes on his debut for Hibernian when he came off the subs' bench

Hibernian loan signing Islam Feruz can prove why he was signed by Chelsea as a 16-year-old, claims Alan Stubbs.

The Hibs boss has signed Feruz, who has yet to make the most of his precocious talent, on a season-long loan.

"He has ability. You can't write people off just because they make headlines for bad decisions," he said of the Scotland Under-21 forward.

"The most important thing is that he is a talented footballer and the penny will drop sooner or later, I hope."

Feruz was brought through Celtic's youth ranks but, on turning 16, left the club for Stamford Bridge.

Having struggled to break in to the first-team squad at Chelsea he has been loaned to OFI Crete, Blackpool and now Hibs.

Former Scottish Football Association performance director Mark Wotte recently pointed to problems with the player's attitude and just last week Feruz made newspaper headlines for a driving incident in Glasgow.

However, Stubbs prefers to focus on the potential of the Somalia-born player, who made his debut from the bench against Alloa on Saturday.

"My main reason for bringing Islam was because of his football ability," he told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound on Sunday.

"I am there to work with players. If I can't manage Islam I'm not doing my job properly.

"He is very intelligent, he makes some very good runs. He will score different types of goals; he could be anything.

"Whenever I sign a player it's a gamble. Some gambles are a bigger risk than others. He has to realise that not everybody is going to give him opportunities all the time.

"He has got to make better life choices and once he does that I think you'll see why Chelsea signed him in the first place.

Derek Riordan in action for Hibs in 2011
Former Hibs favourite Derek Riordan played nine times for East Fife at the tail end of last season

"I'd rather work with talent than no talent."

A player with a slim chance of rivalling Feruz for a starting place in the Championship side's attack is Derek Riordan. He is training with the club for whom he has played more than 250 times across two periods.

"He asked if he could come into training just to keep fit," explained Stubbs.

"I would never refuse anybody an opportunity to use the facilities, especially (given) what he has done there.

"I think he's got a couple of options, which could happen over the next week or two."

Asked if there was a chance of the 32-year-old winning a contract at Easter Road, Stubbs replied: "If he comes in and he blows everybody away, it's a nice decision. He'd have to impress me."

Stubbs is confident that his third-placed team can push Rangers throughout the campaign for the Championship title. They trail Rangers by nine points but have a game in hand.

"I firmly believe that we'll be right there at the end of the season. We know where we are as a team," he asserted.

"Rangers have got some very, very good players and they have had a fantastic start but we are not going to give up the chase just yet."

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