MARK OXLEY has revealed he’s in no great rush to return down south as his Easter Road loan deal begins to edge towards an end.
The Hull City goalkeeper signed a deal to join Hibs until the January transfer window and while boss Alan Stubbs has already raised the possibility of an extension with Tigers manager Steve Bruce, Oxley appears happy to stay.
Aware that a return to the KC Stadium would see him fall behind Scotland keeper Allan McGregor, the veteran Steve Harper and Eldin Jakupovic in the pecking order, the 24-year-old said: “We’ll see what happens come January but I am loving my time here – we’ve got a great set of lads, great staff, it’s a great club. I don’t want to be kicking my heels on the bench. I’m at the stage now where I need to be playing every week.
“I was on the bench at Hull when I was younger and it’s not something I want to be doing, I have to carve out a career for myself and if I am doing that I will be happy.”
Bruce caused a brief scare a few weeks ago when he disclosed he was considering recalling Oxley when Harper joined McGregor on his club’s injury list, leaving him with only Jakupovic to then discover such a move couldn’t take place until the January transfer window. It came only days before the second Edinburgh derby of the season but, Oxley revealed, he didn’t entertain the thought of an early departure.
He said: “There was talk of him [Steve Bruce] wanting me back but at the same time I am a Hibs player until January. As far as I was concerned, until I got the call from Hull saying I was definitely going back or was told the same by Hibs, in my mind, I was a Hibs player so I just concentrated on preparing for the derby.”
Oxley himself has had his own injury worries, suffering a back problem as he tangled with Cowdenbeath forward Kudus Oyenuga at Central Park and was forced to quit the game at half-time to give teenage goalkeeper Kleton Perntreou an unexpected debut, the Albanian-born youngster retaining the gloves for the visit of Queen of the South the following week.
The Yorkshireman did, however, return for the 6-3 win over Dumbarton last weekend and will get his first taste of Scottish Cup action today when Hibs travel to face Alloa Athletic.
Oxley said: “There was a bit of impact with one of the Cowdenbeath players and although I carried on, it did not feel right, it kept on tightening up. At half-time I saw the physio and my back was just getting tighter and tighter and it turned out there was a little crack on the bone.
“But hopefully I’m over it all now. I’ve trained all this week.”
Hibs last visit to Alloa ended in disappointment, Stubbs’ players turning in one of their poorest performances of the season as they lost 2-1 but, since then, the Capital club’s results have picked up remarkably – as Oxley always believed they would.
He insisted: “I’ve said before we always knew what we were capable of, it was just a matter of things clicking together. We were doing it all week in training but it’s what happens on a Saturday, picking up the three points, that counts. The last few weeks we have picked up and people are starting to see what we are capable of.”
And he has no qualms about returning to the Indodrill Stadium and its plastic pitch insisting it could actually help Hibs and their style of football. Claiming not to be aware of Hibs dismal Scottish Cup history, he said: “It’s something you have to do and it might me that it will be better than some pitches later on when they become really muddy.
“At least we can pass the ball on it and it should suit us. We know what to expect, we played on it earlier in the season so there’s no excuses. We’ll be going there looking to win.”
While today might be Oxley’s first Scottish Cup tie, he has plenty of experience of such matches having embarked on an FA Cup run with Oldham last season, beating Wolves and Mansfield before being knocked out by Liverpool containing the likes of Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling with Phillippe Coutinho, Lucas, and Luis Suarez stepping off the bench.
The surroundings at Anfield are a little different to today’s venue, open on three sides with just one stand, but Oxley was adamant it makes no difference. “It’s part and parcel of football,” he said. “You have to go wherever you have to and perform to get the three points or, in this case, to get into the next round of the cup.”