Tom Soares has taken the No. 13 shirt as he targets change of fortune at Hibs

Tom Soares in action for Stoke. Picture: PA
Tom Soares in action for Stoke. Picture: PA
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Unlucky for some it might be, but latest Hibs signing Tom Soares has his fingers crossed the No. 13 shirt he’ll wear over the coming months will bring an upturn in fortunes for both himself and the Easter Road outfit.

The on-loan Stoke City midfielder raised a few eyebrows when he asked if that particular squad number was available.

But, having worn the No. 8 jersey at the Britannia Stadium where his career had stalled in recent seasons, he reckons the change might just bring the luck he and Hibs need at this particular moment.

In an exclusive interview with the Evening News, the 25-year-old said: “I’m not really superstitious so I thought it would be something different, a bit of a change.

“When I asked if it was possible to have No. 13 I got a couple of looks as if to say ‘Are you sure?’. It’s not a jersey a lot of players ask for, you sometimes see goalkeepers wearing that number, but not outfield guys.

“Hopefully, it will bring me and the team a bit of luck.”

Soares also hopes a change of scenery will act likewise, a player whose 150 plus appearances for Crystal Palace earned him a £1.25 million move to the Potters now desperate to kick-start his career all over again.

And well aware there may be some among the Hibs support who suspect a player arriving on loan may not be totally committed to the fight the Capital club face as they battle to haul themselves away from the danger of relegation, Soares insisted nothing could be further from the truth.

Having found himself in the same situation in 2009 as he joined Charlton on loan only to see the London club fail to beat the drop, Soares is determined he won’t go through that heartbreak again.

He said: “I know there will be people who think I’m only on loan and I can happily go back to wherever I have come from and not be bothered.

“But, having been at Charlton in the same situation, I know it is not nice, how much it means to the fans and feeling you have failed. Any football player, any sportsman wants to be as successful as possible. I want to win, I’ve always been a person who wants to win whatever I am doing – even computer games at home – and that’s not something you can switch on and off.

“I’ll be going out there to give it my all in every game, I don’t want to be associated with failure. Hibs may be in a bad situation at the moment, one that a big club like this shouldn’t be in but hopefully I can play my part in getting us out of it.

“If we can put a run of games together, get ourselves out of this mess at the bottom and perhaps go on a decent run in the Scottish Cup then we can have a good end to the season.”

And in helping Hibs do so, Soares admits he hopes others may look differently upon him, the early promise shown at Selhurst Park, forcing his way into the English Under-21 set-up in which he could call the likes of Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon and James Milner team-mates, having evaporated following his move to Stoke.

Initially, though, the signs were promising, Reading-born Soares picking up an early man-of-the-match award for his performance against Spurs before he found himself slipping down the pecking order behind Liam Lawrence, Rory Delap and Dean Whitehead, resulting in him spending spells with Charlton and then Sheffield Wednesday.

Quite why that should have been he can’t say – other to cite the similar experience of Stoke team-mate Michael Tonge, whose performances for Sheffield United prompted a £2m move to Stoke only to also fall out of favour.

Tonge could well have joined Soares in Edinburgh but, instead, has now signed for English Championship club Barnsley as he, too, seeks, to rebuild his career.

Soares said: “I did really well at Palace, made that big money move to Stoke, played well there to start with and then my career stalled. Why? That’s football. You make what you think is the ideal move, you are looking to kick on but it doesn’t work out that way.

“You could come up with all sorts of things but it’s one of those things in football. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way everyone expected at the time.

“But, in a way, I am glad to have had that experience. When you are in the squad playing week in, week out – as I was at Palace – I wouldn’t say you get complacent but you don’t think about the boys who aren’t involved.

“Now I know how much it does mean to be in the team, how things look when you aren’t and I’ll appreciate it all the more.”

Given his past experiences, Soares knows better than to think he’ll be guaranteed his place in Pat Fenlon’s side despite the Irishman having made him his fourth signing of the transfer window, following Eoin Doyle, George Francomb and James McPake through the front door at Easter Road.

But, he insisted, he had no second thoughts when Hibs’ interest was revealed to him. He said: “I don’t know how I came across the gaffer’s radar, I just got a call from my agent saying he was interested in getting me up to Hibs.

“It wasn’t really a huge decision to make, Hibs are a big club although the situation they are in at the moment is a bit awkward. I came up on Sunday, had a medical and a look around and was really impressed by the facilities at East Mains. As a player that’s what you want, everything you need.

“I know a couple of the lads, I played with Akpo Sodje for a little while at Sheffield Wednesday and I’ve come up against the likes of Ivan Sproule a few times down south.

“It’s a young squad here at Hibs but I’ve got a fair level of experience and hopefully I can bring something to the club. My career has sort of stopped and as a player I want to get back showing everyone I am still about and make a name for myself. Between now and the end of the season I want to get back playing and enjoying my football.”

Soares is likely to get his first chance to do that in Saturday’s clash with SPL champions Rangers at Ibrox, a challenge he is already relishing. He said: “That’s the reason for coming up here – big clubs, big games.You want to play in these matches and I’m raring to go.”