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Notts County should eye Hibernian raid this summer to tee up Stuart Maynard reunion

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Hibernian’s Riley Harbottle, a defender on loan from Nottingham Forest’s academy, spent the weekend playing for Colchester in the East Midlands.

After missing all of February’s games due to injury, the 23-year-old returned to the team and immediately established himself at center defense with Connor Hall.

In the first half, Harbottle did a decent job of containing Macaulay Langstaff’s threat in the face of the league’s leading scorer. He also made it easier for Danny Cowley’s squad to go up the field by initiating plays from the back and handling Notts’ fierce high press well.

Even though the Notts number nine would go on to score his trademark League Two goal, finishing well inside the box, the defender’s strong play at the back was unaffected by that one incident.

When Harbottle stopped Dan Crowley’s goal-bound shot in the second half, the score remained at 1-0. However, he came close to capping off his display with a goal when his glancing attempt hit the base of the post and bounced clear to safety.

The midfielder may have played his final game at Meadow Lane at the weekend

Riley Harbottle statistics against Notts County

Riley Harbottle playing for Nottingham Forest's U23's side

Riley Harbottle, an on-loan defender for Hibernian who began his career in Nottingham Forest’s academy, spent the weekend back in the East Midlands with Colchester.

The 23-year-old, who had not played a game since the end of February due to injury, made an excellent impression on his comeback to the team, starting alongside Connor Hall at center defense.

When facing the top scorer in the league, Harbottle did a good job neutralizing Macaulay Langstaff’s danger in the first half. He also handled Notts’ intense high press well and frequently initiated moves from the back, which made it easier for Danny Cowley’s team to advance up the field.

The Notts number nine would go on to score his typical League Two goal, finishing well inside the box, but that one moment did not stop the defender from continuing to play well at the back.

In the second half, Harbottle helped to keep the score 1-0 by clearing Dan Crowley’s goal-bound attempt off the line. He nearly finished his performance with a goal, though, as his glancing effort struck the base of the post and rebounded away to safety.

Riley Harbottle’s match statistics vs Notts County as per FotMob
Minutes played 90
Accurate passes 24/30 (80%)
Tackles won 100%
Touches 46
Duels won 4
Aerial duels won 67%
Clearances 5

While his numbers were impressive upon his return to Nottingham, the underlying benefits of a potential move to Meadow Lane is something the club could be keen to explore, with a number of factors pointing towards a solid addition ahead of next term.

Riley Harbottle move would be beneficial for both parties

Meadow Lane

At the conclusion of the previous season, Harbottle, who had been a member of Forest’s academy since he was seven years old, signed a three-year contract with Scottish Premiership team Hibernian.

However, the 23-year-old has only made two appearances for Hibs since moving north of the border, which led to his transfer to Colchester during the January transfer window.

Harbottle has shown promise while playing for the U’s, but his rapid adjustment to League Two is not surprising given that he was an integral part of Mansfield Town’s team in 2022–2023—a season in which the Stags just missed out on a postseason berth.

The defender demonstrated his ability to be a valuable asset at this level by playing 32 times across all competitions, scoring six goals, and helping them keep 12 clean sheets during that time.

Notts’s relationship with Stuart Maynard makes the move even more alluring. Following an initial one-month loan move in March, Harbottle’s first loan move saw him spend half a season in the National League with Wealdstone under the current Magpies boss, making 11 appearances.

With a strong emphasis on strengthening their defense after conceding the most goals in the fourth division this season—85—the club appears to be gearing up for a busy transfer window.

Though it’s unknown if Harbottle will be available on loan for the upcoming season, if the chance presents itself, the team ought to take it, with the goal of winning promotion.

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