Captaining Hibs “by default” gave Jordon Forster an extra spring in his step for the closing stages of his team’s win over Raith Rovers on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old was given a rare start for the visit of the Kirkcaldy side as Neil Lennon gave the majority of his regulars this season the night off and instead turned to those in need of game time.
As well as receiving a welcome 90 minutes under his belt in the 3-2 home victory, Forster also had the bonus of skippering the team for the last 13 minutes after Andrew Shinnie, who started as captain, went off.
“It was nice to get the armband,” said the big defender. “I was having a bit of banter with Shinnie before the game about it and then when his number went up and he started coming towards me, I had a bit of a smile on my face. The gaffer hadn’t decided I’d be captain, Shinnie just decided to give me it, so I got it by default, but it’s still a privilege to have it round your arm for a club the size of Hibs.
“I’ve been at the club a long time and although it was only for a short time, it was a real privilege. I’ve never been a captain since I was a boy in youth teams. That was the first time I’ve had it in a first-team game. Albeit there were a few players missing and I only got it when someone went off, it’s always nice to have it round your arm. I’ll be honest, for the first couple of minutes after you put it on, you feel like you’ve got a bit extra about yourself. I like to think of myself as a bit of a leader on the pitch anyway but when you’ve got the armband, it probably does help in a small sense.”
Wednesday’s match was only Forster’s eighth start of the season, although he has made an additional 13 appearances off the bench. The defender admitted it was a test to be thrown in for his first start since the Scottish Cup win over Ayr more than six weeks earlier as many of his team-mates were also going into the match short of match sharpness.
“It was really good to be back in the team against Raith,” he said. “Although it was still a team that could beat anybody in this league, when you haven’t been playing regularly, it can be difficult to go into a team where most of the other boys are in the same boat. It can be hard to gel straight away and things like that, but we did well.”
Forster has generally had to bide his time on the sidelines this year as more experienced players like Paul Hanlon, Liam Fontaine, Darren McGregor and Efe Ambrose have generally been picked ahead of him. Untimely injuries haven’t helped his cause. Nonetheless, he takes encouragement from a belief that he is genuinely highly-regarded by manager Neil Lennon. He hopes to get another chance to impress in today’s trip to Ayr United. “I spoke to the manager after the Raith game and he said he was happy with me,” he said. “As a player, a manager can say he’s happy with you and that you’re doing well, but at the end of the day, you want to be starting games and playing 90 minutes. The fact I’ve not been doing that is frustrating but I know the manager rates me as a player and that’s a good feeling. Hopefully I can play the last couple of games of the season and finish it well.”