'Harry is all in' - Hibs boss thrilled to see supporters relationship with returning McKirdy

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Harry McKirdy played in his first match since heart surgery in Motherwell draw

Two weeks ago, Hibs’ Harry McKirdy made his hotly anticipated return to the pitch as the Easter Road outfit clawed back to secure a 2-2 draw against Motherwell.

It was the first time the 26-year-old had been in the action since undergoing major heart surgery in the summer and while, as his boss admitted, it might have been a bit too soon for his match-day return, it certainly instigated a huge wave of positivity from the crowd. 

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The forward has since been training with the Hibs squad during their winter camp in Dubai and Nick Montgomery has been full of praise for the ex-Aston Villa academy star. 

Speaking to Edinburgh News from the Middle East, Monty admitted: “Harry probably came back a bit early but needs must against Motherwell. We had five under-18 academy players in the squad and three of them on the pitch at the end. That shows how light we were but also a positive to have so many academy products on the pitch.

“Harry’s is a great story. The reception he got just warming up (vs Motherwell) shows the great support we’ve got. Everyone understands he has been through a really tough time. 

McKirdy is greeted by Paul McGinn following Easter Road returnMcKirdy is greeted by Paul McGinn following Easter Road return
McKirdy is greeted by Paul McGinn following Easter Road return

“To get him on the pitch and give him that confidence, probably two weeks ahead of schedule but it was either that or go with less subs on the bench.

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“I didn’t really want to use him but the perfect opportunity came and for him it was a massive moment. He has been training really hard. Mentally it’s been really tough for him. He is a very fit player but when you’re out for a long time It’s not easy to get back at a high intensity.

“Moving forward Harry can give us energy off the bench, an impact, we play a lot of teams that sit players behind the ball but Harry is the type of maverick player who can do something out of nothing and create a goal. We will manage him day to day and not week to week because it’s important we look after him."

Montgomery has, however, suggested that the 26-year-old ex-Swindon Town forward can afford to rein in his training as he deals with double training sessions in temperatures reaching the high 20s. 

“He's been training full tilt here. There have been a few times where I’ve had to pick him off the floor and chuck a bottle of water on his head,” the Easter Road boss joked.

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“But Harry is all in and he gives everything. He chases everything and it’s obviously been warm weather and we’ve been training twice a day really hard so it’s been a massive effort for him. We have managed him a little bit in a few of the sessions but he’s given us everything and he’s developing well. The medical staff have been really good with him.

"I think a lot of it is that emotional side and a bit of anxiety over the problem he had so we’re all pushing him and looking after him. If we do that then I’m confident Harry can really make an impact this season and start to show people what he’s about.”

It has not all been the beaming smiles we saw two weeks ago, however, with McKirdy’s manager detailing the hard times have been has low as the highs have been high.

“He’s a really popular member of the group”, Monty added. “He’s needed that support because at times people see him come off the bench against Motherwell but they don’t see the ups and downs he’s had. He’s had a lot of them. I’ve had him in my office a lot of times, just putting my arm around him telling him to keep going and believe he can come back.

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“I’ve no doubt on the positive side it'll make him a better person and appreciate football more. He’s desperate to show people what he’s got and probably prove people wrong as well.

“I don’t think on signing he really showed the impact he can but sometimes that can be the situation and environment. But right now he feels a part of the group and he knows we love and we’re all desperate to see him get back to his full tilt.

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