Hibs new boy Danny Haynes today admitted he has a point to prove after being told he could leave Notts County only six months into a two-year deal.
Haynes was one of three players snapped up by Easter Road boss Terry Butcher only hours before the January transfer window slammed shut, joining Sunderland winger Duncan Watmore and Arsenal defender Daniel Boateng in Edinburgh until the end of the season.
But while Watmore and Boateng are youngsters anxious to enjoy regular first team football for the first time, 26-year-old Haynes is desperate to kick start his career after being shown the door at Meadow Lane.
Having started his career at Ipswich Town, the Londoner had moved on to Bristol City, Barnsley and Charlton, notching up more than 230 first team games before joining the League One club last summer.
But having been signed for the Magpies by Chris Kiwomya, Haynes fell out of favour when he left by mutual consent in October to be replaced by Shaun Derry, who told the frontman he was free to go, opening the way for Butcher to bring him to the Capital.
Today Haynes insisted he’s ready to grasp the opportunity presented by his move to the Scottish Premiership with both hands. He said: “I’ve got a massive point to prove, not only to other people but also to myself because I feel that, for me, a lot of things happened at Notts County that didn’t really go my way.
“It was quite frustrating to sit on the bench and not play, and seeing everything move so fast around me. I’m not getting nay younger, so coming up here I’ve got my head down and focused on doing my best.”
Haynes revealed he’d never been so far north before – joking he’s brought his thermals to combat the cold – but was all too willing to jump at the chance after speaking to former England and Ipswich skipper Butcher.
He said: “Terry Butcher is very well respected at Ipswich, but I didn’t really know about his time there until I did my research. I’d heard in the week before the Celtic game that there was a bit of interest, but nothing happened then.
“I’ve come here on the basis of the way he spoke to me and what he said on the phone. He believed in me, he believes I can do a good job and I believe in the things he wants to do to take the club forward.
“That’s why I’m here, to prove a point to myself and to prove other people wrong, to be honest. I know it’s a long way from home but, one, it’s a big club and, two, it’s another experience for me. Coming here I can offer Hibs something and they can show me the Scottish way of life – so I thought ‘why not?’
“It’s been good so far. From what I’ve seen it’s a beautiful city and everyone’s made me welcome, including all the fans on Twitter and stuff.”
Blessed with lightning pace, Haynes reckons his speed will be the biggest asset he’ll bring to Butcher’s side, a commodity the Hibs boss has been anxious to add and one which he now feels he has in abundance as Watmore is also no slouch. And while he admits coming to a new club with the pedigree he possesses will bring a certain pressure, he’s happy to live with that burden.
He said: “It will be step up. Obviously it’s the biggest league in Scotland, so it’s going to be a step up, playing against some big Scottish clubs and fortunately I’ll be playing for one of the bigger ones and hopefully I can bring something to the table.
“What can I bring to Hibs? The most obvious things is pace, and hopefully I can get a few goals as well.
“It’s an overwhelming feeling that the manager has chosen me and he believes I can do a good job for him. Is there pressure? There’s a little bit of pressure, but playing football is all about pressure and taking opportunities which I’m willing to take full on.”
While Scottish football and Hibs in particular may be all new to Haynes, he found one familiar face at the club’s East Mains training centre, captain Liam Craig, a one-time team-mate in the Ipswich team which lifted the FA Youth Cup in 2005 with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Southampton.
He said: “I was with two years with Liam so he’s shown me the ropes and shown me around the place. He’s helped me settle in.
“It’s crazy the people who were at Southampton at that time. Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Nathan Dyer and a few other decent players. It was a great experience, but it’s in the past and I’ve got to look forward.”