Portsmouth transfer news: Is this the first indication that Leicester youngster and Ipswich-linked George Hirst is not pushing for move back to Fratton Park?
Speaking to Leicester’s official website on Tuesday, the 23-year-old revealed he is keeping an open mind regarding his future as he’s set to embark on pre-season with the Foxes.
However, that didn’t include a mention of a potential Fratton Park return or a desire to pick up where he left off at PO4 in order the continue his progress following a 15-goal haul during the 2021-22 season.
Another loan deal has been touted, but it’s understood the Blues would have to pay a higher percentage of Hirst’s wages.
Despite this, the former Sheffield Wednesday man implied his south coast chapter could now be closed – as he spoke of his gratitude for his opportunity in royal blue.
Hirst told LCFC.com: ‘For me to go to Portsmouth and finish the season strongly and to score that many goals, it was brilliant, not only to prove to myself that I can do it, but to prove to everybody else and I’m good enough to score the goals.
‘It was a real confidence booster. When you’re playing with that sort of confidence, it can only help your development even more.
‘To get experience at a team the size of Portsmouth was amazing.
‘I’m forever grateful to them for the opportunity to go and pull their shirt on and play in front of the local fans every week because they were brilliant with me.
‘Having 20,000 at Fratton Park has just made me so hungry for more of it.
“From start to finish, they gave me all their support. When they are on your side, there’s no better feeling.
‘It was almost like the break came at a bad time for me really. If the season had carried on from now until Christmas, then I would have been pretty happy.
‘Now it’s just about keeping fit and getting back to Leicester, seeing what happens in the summer and trying to show the best version of myself when I go back.
‘It’s been a good off-season so far. I’ve done my running and enjoyed some time off.
‘It’s crazy for a footballer during the season, but I can’t wait to get back at it now, get back into the swing of things and get going again.’
By the time Hirst’s season-long loan was coming to an end, ‘sign him up chants’ were often heard from the Fratton faithful.
But it wasn’t always pain sailing for the striker.
He was often the subject of ridicule early in his stay after enduring a run of two goals in 21 appearances.
He added: ‘It was a tough start. Being quite a long way away, settling in and getting to know all the boys, once I felt I got my head around that, it was about getting in the team and trying to score as many goals as possible.
‘I always I believed, I knew myself that once I got the chance to go out there and play regular games and get the minutes in, it was the first time I had played consistently for just over a year. I’d not played since I was last at Leicester in the Under-23s.’