Elias Melkersen glad to be back for Hibs after concussion scare as he makes goals vow
Elias Melkersen is very matter-of-fact as he discusses the concussion he suffered in Hibs’ 1-0 defeat by St Mirren in August and seems more annoyed at having to miss so many games in the early part of the season than worried about possible long-term repercussions.
The 19-year-old is brimming with confidence as he previews the cinch Premiership match against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Saturday, despite the Easter Road side’s dismal run of recent form.
Melkersen has made eight league appearances so far this term, a run of games hampered by the concussion and another minor injury, and played the full 90 minutes for the first time this season on Tuesday night in the 2-0 defeat by Ross County. He insists he wants to be playing every week now that he has fully recovered.
"It’s very good to be back; it’s been some hard weeks with two injuries close to each other. I love to play football, it’s the best thing I know, so it’s good to be back,” he says.
“I got Paul Hanlon’s hip in my temple, so it was just a very bad concussion. When I fell down I just got straight back up again but I didn’t know where I was. It was a strange feeling, I was very concerned.”
Speaking earlier this season, Easter Road assistant boss Jamie McAllister recalled helping the striker off the Paisley pitch and realising something wrong when the Norwegian youth internationalist was having trouble walking, and Melkersen has paid tribute to the staff at the club for helping accelerate his return to the fold.
“The team, the coaches, and everyone at the club have been really good in helping me and taking care of me and checking on me every day. I recovered faster because they were so supportive,” he adds.
"It was very tough to deal with because you feel like you’re okay, then after you train you feel like s***, so it was very bad. If there was a lot of people around I would start to sway and feel dizzy. I couldn’t focus and my head would start to pump as well, so it was not good. If anyone gets concussion you need to be very careful and take your time. If you don’t it can be very dangerous.”
The stringent protocols footballers have to go through now helps limit the possibility of players returning to action before they’re ready, but Melkersen admits that having to sit out matches despite feeling physically fine was difficult to come to terms with.
“The doctors told me not to rush it and take the time I needed to, but it was very frustrating because I wanted to come back as fast as possible. It was worrying. I have had some concussions before but this was the worst one.
“My memories came back after a few days but when it happened, everything was gone from the previous week. The concussions I had before I was out for maybe one and a half weeks but this was four weeks – in fact, maybe a bit more because I felt I couldn’t be myself when I started to train again.
"My body was completely fine but my head was gone, that was the frustrating part. I knew physically I could do everything but my head wasn’t working the way it wanted to. I wanted to come back but the club kept telling me to be patient.”
Like most of his contemporaries, Melkersen didn’t particularly enjoy watching from the stands, although he is sensible enough to realise that he could learn from watching his team-mates operate from a different viewpoint.
“It was tough mentally. You can’t do anything but you feel like you can make a difference, so it’s hard. You learn a lot, though. You see how other players do things so you take tips from them,” he explains.
Now that he is fully fit and available he is keen to make a difference in attack. Manager Lee Johnson bemoaned a lack of quality in the final third on Tuesday night but Melkersen remains confident that the goals will come – for him and his team-mates – starting with Saturday’s trip to Ayrshire.
“We just need to have a good week and recover from the last game. We know Kilmarnock are a physical team on the astro so it will be tough but I think we can get some points. It will be good for us to get some points and then get a good break. I don’t feel any pressure, we should just go out and have fun, that’s the most important thing in football, to go out and try and win the game.”
Growing up in Norway, Melkersen is well used to artificial surfaces and is looking forward to 90 minutes on Killie’s plastic pitch.
“I have been playing on astro since I was four years old so of course I love to play on it. A really good grass pitch is better, I think, but I don’t mind astro. The ones in Scotland aren’t as good as the ones we have back home, I would say, because every team there has astro, but they’re decent.”
He notched an assist in the 4-1 defeat by Aberdeen but hasn’t scored since the Premier Sports Cup group stage, unless you count the winner he scored against Norwich City in the pre-season friendly between the two clubs, but he isn’t dwelling on his drought in front of goal.
“I’m confident the goals will come soon, if I think about it it will become worse,” he continues. “I just need to train hard every day and be ready for games. It’s the right time for me to play every week and Hibs is the best place to continue my development.”