Busman’s holiday proves to be just the ticket for David Wotherspoon

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They hardly compare to the Dead Sea and Peru’s Inca Baths, Paisley and Luxembourg having never enjoyed international acclaim for their healing properties.

But the effect of time spent at St Mirren Park and Stade Josy Barthel in the past week appears to have rejuvenated Hibs’ David Wotherspoon beyond recognition.

Gone is the tension and apprehension that came with sitting on the bench for a struggling Hibs side before the international break and Scotland under-21 duty; here, hopefully to stay, is a fresh, invigorated and relaxed young midfielder basking in the feelgood factor of playing two full games for his country and bursting to come to life in the Easter Road first team once again.

“When I went away I was still sitting on the bench and not getting much game time,” Wotherspoon told the Evening News. “I think the break was needed, so it was certainly a big thing for me to get some games. Two [lots of] 90 minutes was great for me to get under my belt and it’s good coming back.

“I was a little bit down. I wasn’t sure about whether I’d play with Scotland either, but now I’ve had the two games it’s a real boost.

“I was part of the [Hibs] team quite a lot at the start of the season, playing most of the time and starting most games. I’ve been out the team recently and just have to pick myself up, and that’s what I’ve been doing.”

Wotherspoon admits to having felt a heavy mental burden when reporting for training at Hibs’ training complex at East Mains as the club struggled to rise from near the foot of the SPL. Now, in his flip-flops and kicking back on a couch in the facility’s reception area, the supporting evidence of the positive effects of an international break is illustrated in living, breathing form.

He said: “When you come in here, you’re near the foot of the table and you’re thinking, ‘The pressure’s on us, we need to do well, we need to do well.’ But you go away with Scotland and it’s more relaxed. I think I needed that couple of weeks just to chill myself out and get two games under my belt.

“I’m really happy. A 5-1 win [in Luxembourg] is good on all counts. I got a bit of praise from the coaching staff, which was good to hear to get my confidence back again.”

Billy Stark has much credit to take for this transformation, handing Wotherspoon his favoured central midfield role against both Luxembourg and Austria. The Hibs man admits that he is a “confidence player” and that Stark’s faith in him came as a boost at a crucial time.

“Some players do need a confidence boost – they benefit from it,” said the 21-year-old. “I played in a more central midfielder role in both games, which I was really happy with. I really prefer that. I felt confident in there. Billy Stark spoke to me before the game and said he felt like I had the experience to bring the team through. I felt confident that he was confident in me and gave me that bit of a boost.

“Him giving me the word [to play] gave me that confidence in myself, but I think it’s really me who needs to give myself the confidence to go out there and show what I’ve got. Just by putting it in your head that you believe in yourself – that’s what I need to do a lot more.

“That’s what I’ve been trying to do in training and in games and I think the break has given me a wee bit of a boost. It’s a bit relaxed with the Scotland camp – it’s nice and easy, and a wee bit of the pressure is off.”

A holiday camp it was not, however, and there may have been times in between the national team’s intensive schedule of training and matches that Wotherspoon hankered for the free time at home that many of his Hibs team-mates enjoyed during the past fortnight.

However, having only played a total of 69 minutes – despite being part of each matchday squad – in Hibs’ last five league outings, it is plain to see that Wotherspoon was delighted just to be back playing.