Jordon Forster is feeling one of the boys again after a season feeling as if he was on the outside looking in at Easter Road.
The big defender, frustrated at a lack of game time under previous boss Alan Stubbs, spent the second half of last season on loan at Plymouth Argyle in search of regular first-team football before returning to Edinburgh to clinch a new two-year deal.
And, although he’s still struggling to become a regular starter under manager Neil Lennon, the 22-year-old feels more involved as he battles for a place with the likes of Darren McGregor, Paul Hanlon and Liam Fontaine for his place.
Agreeing that task has been made all the more difficult given Hibs’ impressive start to their bid for the Championship title, he said: “They are all good players. I’m just going to keep working hard and hopefully my chance will come. As a player, you want to be part of a winning team and the next step is to be playing in a winning team.
“For me, as much as it’s frustrating and I go home in bad moods and whatnot, I’m part of the club and I’m working hard every day to improve. When the team is winning and you’ve got a good squad it makes it good to be a part of – but it makes it a lot harder to get into the team.”
However, Forster revealed, Lennon has made him feel part of it all even if, so far, he’s only been getting a few minutes in matches, such as on Saturday against Dumbarton when Hibs were winning 1-0. He said: “It’s good because I know he trusts me. I would say when I was here last season I felt I felt on the outside looking in. Not just me, but for the other boys who weren’t playing. It was very much ‘we’re a team’.
“I think that’s one of the biggest things that’s disappeared from a year ago. It did feel like when you weren’t playing you weren’t part of the team. It wasn’t a divide, don’t get me wrong, but you were on the outside looking in. But this season you’re a lot closer. I think anyone could step out of the team and anyone could go in and I don’t think there would be a massive difference.”
And a lot of that, insisted Forster, was down to Lennon. Speaking as he and team-mates stripped off in support of a national campaign to increase the number of people on the NHS Organ Donor Register, he said: “I speak to the manager most days. He’s good with all the boys. He speaks during training and after training. As much as he is, in my eyes, quite an aggressive manager, he does everything in the right way and he’s got a knack of saying things at the right time, good and bad.”
The depth of Hibs squad and Lennon’s training methods are, Forster believes, behind Hibs’ fine start to the season. He said: “If you look at the training yesterday, it was really tough but in terms of the competitiveness, it’s night and day from the training this time last year. There’s a real edge.
“Every day you need to go out with the right attitude and train well because if you don’t you get shown up. It’s hard and there’s a wee bit more pressure on a day-to-day basis, but I think it’s showing on a Saturday.”