Kenneh convinced he's ready for Hibs challenge after learning under Bielsa at Leeds

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Kenneh convinced he's ready for Hibs challenge after learning under Bielsa at Leeds
Kenneh convinced he's ready for Hibs challenge after learning under Bielsa at Leeds

NAHAN KENNEH is convinced he is ready for a new challenge at Hibernian after growing up on and off the pitch under Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United.

The 19-year-old was a regular on the substitute’s bench for Leeds this season and, despite never making his first-team debut, even finished the campaign with a yellow card to his name following wild celebrations after the crucial injury-time winner against Wolves in March.

With England’s Kalvin Phillips blocking his way to top-team football, the highly-rated defensive midfielder has decided the time is right to try to make the step up from under-23s football at Elland Road.

And the teenager, who moved to England from Liberia at the age of seven, has revealed his conversations with new manager Lee Johnson helped persuade him that Hibs was the right move for him.

Kenneh, who has signed a three-year deal, said: “I’m very happy to be here. I know it’s a great club, with a great fan base, and I can’t wait to get started.

“The project was key. When I spoke to the manager he really sold me on the project.

“I feel like when I come here it’s a massive step for me, I know that, but I feel like I’m ready for the challenge.

“He gave me a lot of confidence, telling me what he’s seen in my game and what I can improve on as well. I feel like me and him working together can be a good partnership.

“It was brilliant [being in the Leeds first-team squad]. I feel like being around the lads, and going to away games, helped me grow up as a person and as a player.

“Obviously, I was training with them frequently as well and when you’re in that environment, in that Premier League environment, you get that atmosphere and that sense of ‘this is where I belong, this is where I want to be’.

“It motivates you to do more and I feel like I’m ready for that challenge, really.”

Speaking about the colourful Bielsa, who left Leeds in February, Kenneh commented: “He improved me a lot. For me, his style of play is different, more man for man and more intense. It’s very intense, we did a lot of running - so, I’ll be ready for pre-season, there’s no doubt about that!

“But his style of play improved me as a player, it was very good for me.”

Frequently a stand-out performer at youth level, Kenneh admits playing with the Leeds under-21s against the likes of Blackpool, Oldham and Tranmere Rovers in the EFL Trophy in the last two seasons helped give him a taste for more.

He added: “It was an amazing experience, playing against men and seeing how good I was in men’s football, because that’s where I want to be.

“That’s the main aim for any player, challenging yourself and going up against teams that have got better quality.

“Going into the games, I feel like I got more confidence as I went on and I feel like I did well, which was good.

“I’ve been around Leeds first-team for a while and I feel like this is the right step for me. It’s massive but I feel like it’s the right step for me and my family.

“The biggest thing for me now is just to kick on and work hard.”

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