Hibs new boy Scott Allan is convinced the Easter Road outfit can make an immediate return to the Scottish Premiership despite facing stiff competition from title favourites Rangers and Capital rivals Hearts.
The 22-year-old midfielder became Alan Stubbs third signing of the summer, his arrival hailed as a “tremendous coup” by the head coach given interest from the Ibrox club and English clubs following his release from West Bromwich Albion.
But, the former Dundee United youngster disclosed, it didn’t take much persuading from Stubbs to make the return journey over the Border, the head coach making an immediate impression as he gave the Scotland Under-21 internationalist an insight into his plans for Hibs.
Insisting he firmly believes Stubbs is the man to get his career back on track after his move south turned sour, Allan said: “I first heard of Hibs’ interest last week and it was something I wanted to pursue. The manager showed me round the place, spoke to me for a good hour, what he wants for the future and I thought, ‘that’s good enough for me’.
“He’s really ambitious and I think he is the one who can rejuvenate my career and that’s what I want to do. I think he has shown faith in me and I think he is the right man to develop my career.
“I want to get back on track and to play football. The style of football he wants to play was a big thing for me.”
However, Allan also detected a “burning desire” within Easter Road to get Hibs back into the top flight of Scottish football at the first time of asking following their shock relegation – and he sees no reason why that ambition cannot be realised.
He said: “It’s going to be a really exciting league, really competitive and every game is going to count and that was a big draw for me. There’s a lot of good players here and if we all get in the right direction there’s no reason why we cannot get up automatically. I think we can do it.”
Actually win the Championship in face of competition from Rangers and Hearts? “I do not see why not,” he replied, “We’ve good players, it’s competitive and we will drive each other on and hopefully at the end of the season we will go up.
“Rangers were always going to be favourites because of the size of the club, but I feel we have a good squad, a tight-knit group that will push each other.”
From a personal point of view, Allan admitted there’s an element of him having a point to prove to those who will question his wisdom in making the move south at the age of just 20, then WBA boss Roy Hodgson now, of course, England manager, forking out £300,000 for his signature.
Allan never managed to break into the first team at the Hawthorns and spent spells on loan at Portsmouth, Milton Keynes Dons and Birmingham City but, he insisted, he’s returned to Scotland a better player.
He said: “I’ve thought about it myself, was that the right move? But I look back on it and I think I did get some good experience in the Championship, a higher level than the SPFL.
“When I first went down I went to Portsmouth and did really well, but when I went back Roy Hodgson got the England job. I was a wee bit unfortunate there and the season went after a few things went wrong with the clubs I was going to.”
Allan spent last season with Birmingham City where manager Lee Clark questioned his work ethic as he fell out of the team. But that, he insisted, was something he took on board to the extent he finished the season forcing his way back into the plans.
He said: “I think I’ve learned a lot about the defensive side of things. It’s been spoken about a lot in the past, that my defensive side of the game wasn’t good. I think I did well on that side of the game. I was that frozen out I didn’t expect to get back in, but I got my head down and managed to get back in.
“He was wanting somebody to create and it didn’t work out as well as he hoped, but we stayed up on the last day of the season and I was happy just to get back into the team.”
It is, however, as a creative midfielder Stubbs is looking for Allan to shine, a role he’ll be delighted to fill, The players said: “The style of football he wants to play will suit me. I got a sore neck a few times last season because of the football.
“Hopefully if we are playing good football then I can do my best. He just wants me to be a creative midfielder.”
And Allan revealed he hopes to play some part in tomorrow’s friendly at Easter Road against his old club United. He said: “My fitness is fine, I had a few weeks pre-season with Derby so I kept myself ticking over while I was speaking to a few clubs.
“I’m available for tomorrow – it’s just funny how the first game is against United. That will be interesting.”