Wednesday September 9, 2015
By BRIAN MARJORIBANKS
Controversial Scotland Under-21 striker Islam Feruz has set his sights on rehabilitating his stalled career on loan at Hibs - then forcing his way into the first-team at Chelsea.
The 19-year-old attacker was given his first-team debut by Jose Mourinho against a Malaysia League XI in a pre-season friendly in July 2013. Since then he's endured a series of ill-fated loan spells at Blackpool, Russian side Krylia Sovetov and OFI Crete in Greece.The Somalia-born forward, who will remain at Easter Road for the whole season, is one of 33 players currently loaned out by Chelsea. But he insisted he is capable of reviving his fortunes in Edinburgh before going on to fulfil his dream of starring in the English Premier League.
'Can I still be a first-team player at Chelsea? Of course I can – I know I can do a job there,' said Feruz, who quit Celtic for Stamford Bridge in 2011 in a £300,000 deal.
'I played in the first-team in pre-season two seasons ago under Jose Mourinho. I have a long term-contract (until 2018) and it's up to me to do well with my loan spell and get back on that path. But I've always believed in myself and my ability as footballer even during the past couple of years.'
Feruz, whose family fled warn-torn Somalia when he was 10, qualifies for Scotland after coming through the school system here. But the nation's youngest-ever Under-21 international has not played for his adopted country since a record 6-0 loss to England in Sheffield in August 2013.
Despite fears over his attitude after a number of call-offs, the SFA refused to close the door on Feruz even when they were told he no longer wished to be considered for a call-up.
Under-21 boss Ricky Sbragia, who managed Feruz in the Under-19s, last week insisted he would like to see the teenager get his club and international career back on track.
Despite once tweeting about his desire to play in the African Cup of Nations, Feruz claimed on Tuesday his commitment to Scotland has never wavered.
'My concentration right now is to do well for Hibs and then whatever comes in the future will come. But I like Scotland and I enjoy playing for Scotland, so I'd like the opportunity if it comes in the future - as long as I do well here at Hibs.
'Would I be up for playing for Scotland again? Definitely. If I didn't want to play for Scotland I wouldn't have represented Scotland at all the age groups from Under 15s to 21s.
'Do I have any issues with Ricky Sbragia? No, I enjoyed playing for Scotland under him in the past.'
Last week, former SFA performance director Mark Wotte warned Hibs boss Alan Stubbs that Feruz would be a 'big challenge'.
But Feruz said 'Maybe he (Wotte) found it a challenge to manage me, but Alan Stubbs won't. Alan Stubbs is a brilliant manager. He knows how to work with young players and he is comfortable with that. I will listen to him and I want to do well for him.'