Hibs manager Paul Heckingbottom has admitted that he “wasn’t aware” of Ryan Gauld before moving to Easter Road earlier this year as he told how he is constantly being asked by fans about the midfielder’s fitness.

Gauld arrived at Hibs on loan shortly before Heck took the reins but the former Leeds boss was in the dark about the on-loan Sporting Lisbon ace’s profile.

16th February 2019, Easter Road, Edinburgh, Scotland; Ladbrokes Premiership football, Hibernian versus Hamilton Academical; Paul Heckingbottom Hibernian Manager takes the applause of the Easter road crowd on his debut

(photo by Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Heckingbottom thinks the constant questions show just how much interest there is in the player once tagged ‘Baby Messi’ as he gets set for a return to first-team action.

“I wasn’t aware of him before but what I have noticed since I have been here is whenever I have been at a development game or out in town I have been asked: ‘How’s Ryan? When will he be back fit?” Heckingbottom told the Edinburgh Evening News.

6th February 2019, Celtic Park, Glasgow, Scotland; Ladbrokes Premiership football, Celtic versus Hibernian; Scott Brown of Celtic and Ryan Gauld of Hibernian compete for possession of the ball

(photo by Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Images)

“Lots of people have been asking about him so that backs up what’s been said, he is a player who everybody wants to know about because of his move (to Portugal) and the interest in it.”

Gauld has been out with a hamstring injury for almost two months and played for Hibs’ reserves on Monday against Ross County.

27th January 2019, The Simple Digital Arena, Paisley, Scotland; Ladbrokes Premiership football, St Mirren versus Hibernian; Brad Lyons of St Mirren and Ryan Gauld of Hibernian contest header

(photo by Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Images)

While it seems unlikely that he’ll be thrust into the starting XI right away, it looks as though he isn’t far away.

After a disappointing time in Leith so far, it could finally be time for Gauld to show what he is capable of.

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