Lewis Allan may have swapped the chance of a league winner’s medal for a potential relegation battle, but the striker insists the decision was a no-brainer.
The Hibs youngster has made the short hop from Easter Road to Meadowbank, joining Edinburgh City on loan until the end the of the season. Being a full loan rather than a development loan means Allan will not be eligible to play for Hibs Under-20s as well as City’s first team.
Eddie May’s young Hibees are top of the SPFL Development League, four points clear of nearest challengers Motherwell. In contrast, City are just two points off the bottom of Ladbrokes League Two.
Allan has certainly taken himself out of his comfort zone, but admitted the choice between Development League honours and exposure to competitive first team football wasn’t a difficult one.
“I can’t play development league now, so I might miss out on a medal but I’d rather be playing first-team football, that’s the most important thing,” explained the 20-year-old, who played the full 90 minutes of City’s 0-0 draw with Clyde last weekend.
“At my age and with the injury I had [Allan underwent surgery to remove a cyst from his spine], playing is the most important thing. I’ll sacrifice a Development League medal any day to go out and play first-team games.
“It’s a different challenge for me and it’s a tight league. A couple of wins and you’re right up there mixing with the teams in the play-off places, but then another couple of results go against you and you’re fighting relegation. There’s pressure, but it’s good pressure. For Edinburgh City to get in to that league is brilliant and to stay there would be even better, so to be part of that would be something special. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season has to offer.”
Allan spent the early part of the season on loan at Livingston, but a lack of game time there made him more determined to gain experience, this time with the right club. “Livingston didn’t work out for various reasons,” he said. “It was vital to pick the right club this time and given my injury I just need to try and get as many games as I can under my belt and get back to enjoying playing football again.
“I found out that City were interested after the 20s game on Monday night. At the start of the transfer window I had a chat with the guys at Hibs and they asked if [going on loan] was something I wanted and I said ‘yeah, definitely.’ I then sat down with my agent who said he’d try and sort something out.
“I then thought ‘you know what, I might just stick it with Hibs until pre-season and get a good one under my belt.’ Obviously then City’s interest came about. There was another team in for me, but Edinburgh’s more local and it just seemed a better fit with the two guys from Hibs there already. I’m really happy to have joined.”
With the presence of parent club colleagues Aaron Dunsmore and Ryan Porteous, Meadowbank is becoming something of a nursery for Hibs’ young talents. Naturally the two helped persuade Allan to make the move, while one or two more experienced familiar faces will further ease the transition.
“Having found out after the game on Monday, I went straight over to speak to Ryan and he was like ‘come, definitely’,” Allan recalled. “I spoke to Dunsy later that night and he wanted me come as well. It’ll be good having those guys there. They only said good things so I was happy to make the move.
“I know a couple of the other boys too. Josh Walker was in training with Hibs for quite a while – he’s a really good guy and good player as well. I sort of know Calum Antell as well from my younger days when I came up and trained with the first team at Hibs. Having those guys there will make it a lot easier and smoother.”
So too will being fully fit, Allan now back to peak fitness more than a year on from his operation. He said: “I’m fit. I’ve been playing games with the 20s and I’m feeling good. I’ve maybe not played as much as I would have liked, but I’ve played enough, if that counts? I played on Monday night so I’m feeling sharp and raring to go for the game on Saturday.”