Hibs wunderkind Josh Landers has been handed a new three-yearcontract - just over a week on from making his first-team debut.
The 16-year-old forward’s meteoric rise through the ranks,consistently playing several age grades up in domestic and Europeancompetition, is reflected in the fact that he’s being tied down to a long-termdeal less than three months after signing his first professional contract.
Former Peebles High School pupil Landers was just 14 when hescored his first goal for the Under-18s – and played in the UEFA Youth League notlong after his 15th birthday.
The youngster, who has been in the Hibs system from the ageof 10, made his first appearance for the senior side when he came off the benchto replace Dylan Vente late in the 1-0 Viaplay Cup semi-final loss to Aberdeen.
With Adam Le Fondre and Christian Doidge both unavailable,the striker also got a late run-out in last Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw with StMirren in Paisley, and he was on the bench – but unused – in the weekend winover Kilmarnock.
Head coach Nick Montgomery, having already fast-trackedfullback Rory Whittaker into the first team set-up, has been impressed withLanders’ efforts in training and limited game time.
The attacker – capped eight times for Scotland Under-16s - wasinvolved in last season’s UEFA Youth League heroics, as Hibs saw off Molde andNantes before suffering a narrow defeat to German giants Borussia Dortmund.
Academy director Gareth Evans, who has now seen Landers followWhittaker with a quick promotion to the first team, said: “We’re alldelighted for Josh. I’m sure this is a very proud moment for him and hisfamily.
“It’s always great to see a young player progress through the academyage groups and make their debut for the first team. The real challenge for Joshnow is to keep that hunger and desire to develop and to push for moreopportunities with the first team set-up.”