Hibs midfielder Sam Stanton insists his loan switch to Championship rivals Livingston will give him the platform to reproduce the kind of form that once saw him touted as one of Scotland’s brightest prospects.
The 21-year-old has joined the struggling Lions in a deal until the end of the season, having been limited to just seven appearances under Easter Road boss Alan Stubbs this term. Despite starting and scoring the opener in Hibs’ 6-2 Petrofac Training Cup defeat to Rangers in July, Stanton’s last outing in a green-and-white jersey came as a substitute in the 3-0 victory over Queen of the South in Dumfries at the beginning of October.
Having agreed the move to West Lothian last Friday afternoon, Stanton was thrust straight into Livi manager David Hopkin’s starting line-up 24 hours later and played 90 minutes of the 1-0 Scottish Cup fourth-round defeat to Morton.
Although disappointed not to have progressed through to the last 16 of the competition, Stanton says he is looking forward to getting some much-needed game time.
“He’s [Hopkin] just said he wants to get me back playing and back to the level I was at,” Stanton told the Evening News. “I was delighted just to be back on the pitch against Morton on Saturday. My fitness is pretty good. I found the last five minutes quite tough but I expected that anyway. I’ll get fitter the more games I play. Livingston are a good club so I’m really happy to be here. There were a couple of other options open to me but, when this one came up, I was delighted to join.”
Stanton doesn’t harbour any resentment towards Stubbs over his lack of involvement this season, insisting the Hibs squad has gelled well. That said, Stanton still believes he can make an impact at Easter Road next season having signed a four-year deal with the club in April 2014.
“I had a chat with the gaffer before I joined Livingston and he’s just told me to go out and get games,” he said. “He says I’m still in the picture but to just go out and enjoy my football again. It’s always frustrating not being involved but I think with the results Hibs have had this year and the long run they went on, it was difficult for me to break into the team and hard for me to go and complain. I’m not really thinking at all about what might happen at the end of the season. My focus is just on keeping Livingston in the Championship.”
A trip to Ibrox is next on the horizon for Stanton and his new team-mates this weekend, Livi in desperate need of points as they look to alleviate their relegation fears. But, at the same time, Stanton is hoping to do Hibs a favour on Saturday by springing a surprise in Glasgow.
“It certainly would be nice to do them a wee favour,” he said smiling. “But I’ll give my all to this club. These are the sorts of places you want to play at so I’m looking forward to it. It would have been nice to have still been in the cup but our focus is on the league now so we need to go and pick up the points that will get us up the table.
“I’ve only been here a couple of days but I think we’re good enough to stay in the division. I’m a wee bit surprised where the club is but that’s football and these things happen.”