STEVEN WHITTAKER turns 36 in June and is the first to admit age is beginning to catch up with him on the pitch.

The Hibernian player’s ability to read the game is more refined, but he concedes his legs are unwilling to carry on him on lung-busting runs down the flank.

Now in his second spell at the Leith side, Whittaker feels more comfortable being deployed in the centre of the park, having started four of Hibs’ last seven matches in that position.

“I don’t really see myself as a right-back at the stage of my career I’m at, I really need to play a more central role these days,” said Whittaker, who will be hoping to play against Ross County this evening.

Glasgow Times:

“I played right back at the start of the season when the previous manager [Paul Heckingbottom] was in charge. That was mainly through injuries to Dave Gray and Tom James.

“I think centre-mid is where I need to play going forward, you get a little bit more protection in the central areas of the park. That suits me in the stage I’m at of my career.

“It’s having the ability to read the game from the central areas, you can be a little bit quicker in the mind rather than the body.

“We do high distances in there but not so much high speed running which you would do in the wider areas.

“You’re not as powerful or as quick off the mark as what you were 10 years younger.”

Whittaker’s contract expires at the end of the season and retirement is not in his thoughts, even if he does have one eye on transitioning into coaching.

He added: “My body is feeling okay. It maybe takes you a day or so to recover but I still feel like I’m in good enough shape to do a job for someone.

Glasgow Times:

“My contract is up this summer but there have been no talks yet.

“I’d like to be here, definitely – I still feel like I’m in good enough shape to keep going.

“Look at Kenny Miller, who has just retired – he is 40. David Weir, who I played with at Rangers, played until he was 40. Age is but a number.

“The body will tell you when it is time to call it a day.”