Hubner secures loan to Japan

Justin Hubner will spend the remainder of the J1 League season on loan at Cerezo Osaka.

The defender has completed a move to the highest tier of football in Japan, where he will stay until the conclusion of their campaign in October.

It marks the first loan spell away from Compton Park for Hubner, who was signed as a 16-year-old from FC Den Bosch in February 2020.

Since then, the versatile defender has progressed through the under-18s and to the under-21s, where he has been a mainstay in recent years.

Now 20, Hubner has captained James Collins’ side this season and, in January, competed in the Asian Cup for Indonesia.

Osaka have made an unbeaten start to the 2024 season, picking up a win and two draws from their opening three fixtures.

Pathways manager Steve Davis said: “We were looking for a loan for Justin, maybe in the summer rather than now, but the opportunity came along.

“Osaka made contact and we followed it up. They were after a centre back because they’d had an injury to one of their key players at the back and with Justin’s link with Indonesia in that Asia market, we felt it would be a good one for him.

“It’s a different market for him to be in, different sort of league. The style of football in the J1 League is very strong and it will be a really good challenge for him. We just felt that for his footballing development, that would be a great step and a good challenge.

“He’s been doing really well in the under-21s and has had a good season. He just needed more of a challenge and the J-League will give him that step up he needs now moving forward.”

And given Hubner’s Asian Cup experience, where he came up against Japan, Davis believes that the defender will have the ability to adapt to the style of football, but stresses he must earn his place in the team and perform on a consistent basis.

“Having watched the football, the standard and style, there’s a lot of interest in Japan with how well the national team has done. It was an opportunity for him not to miss, so he goes there and he should be comfortable.

“His experience of being with Indonesia has set him up nicely to be in Japan and perform well there.

“He’s got to break into the team, get the trust of the coach. They don’t have many left footers so he’ll give them that balance and he can play multiple positions which he’s very adaptable to do. He’s got to get in the team and then show that he can fight for his place like everyone else has to.

“He needs to show that he can be consistent in men’s football for a season and that’s going to be the biggest challenge for him.”

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