Hibernian caretaker manager David Gray was delighted to have ‘fantastic’ Ryan Porteous back from a lengthy ban in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Aberdeen.
The defender was available after serving a four-game cinch Premiership suspension, although he did feature in last month’s Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by rivals Hearts.
Porteous showed his value to the team with a man-of-the-match performance against the Dons as the hosts claimed a point through Paul McGinn’s equaliser after David Bates had given Jim Goodwin’s men the lead.
Gray said: “I thought Ryan was fantastic – he’s not played for a few weeks so it was always going to be a bit of a risk at this stage to throw him in and see how he was but he didn’t show any signs of rustiness.
“He’s trained exceptionally well, he works really hard, and I think he’s a fantastic player.
“He’s had his challenges at times, and I think he knows that, but when his head is on it and he’s in a good place like he is at the moment, he’s a top centre-half at this level.”
After failing to land a single shot on target in the previous weekend’s loss to Livingston, Gray was encouraged that Hibs at least looked more menacing in the final third against Aberdeen.
He added: “In the first half I thought we had a couple of big chances in the game but I wasn’t too happy with our play without the ball; I thought it was too easy for Aberdeen to switch the play and we struggled to get hold of it.
“When we did have it, our shape was causing them a bit of a problem but we made a wee change at half-time and I thought we started the second half really well.
“The change really helped us but to then lose the goal took the momentum out of us a little bit.
“Credit to the boys who came on, I thought they made a big difference as well and injected a little bit of energy at a stage in the game where we really needed it which was important.
“I’m probably slightly disappointed we didn’t win the game in the end having got back into it.”
Bates gave Aberdeen the lead 10 minutes after the restart with a near-post finish before McGinn, from a similar position, levelled in the 83rd minute.
Aberdeen manager Goodwin admits taking a share of the spoils reflected what the teams put into the game.
He said: “We came here to try and win the game.
“I said to the players after the game that I thought we were very good first half. We were in control of the majority of the first 45 minutes, we were the better team.
“We pressed Hibs high up the pitch, denied them any real space. Second half I didn’t think we reached those levels.
“I have to give credit to David and his players as well, they changed their system a little bit. And they were the better team in the second 45.
“So I don’t think any of us could have any arguments.”