Dylan McGeouch has revealed his season would have been over but for the protective face-mask he wore against Aberdeen, which will allow him to play his part in Hibs’ push for second place in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
The midfielder suffered a broken cheekbone during the 2-1 win over Celtic on April 21, an injury which would normally have ruled him out of action for up to six weeks.
However, a surgeon revealed he wouldn’t need an operation and would be happy for him to play provided he wore a mask, the 25-year-old travelling to see a specialist in England to be fitted for the “bespoke” contraption.
The fact it had to be manufactured in the Czech Republic resulted in McGeouch sitting out Hibs’ 5-3 victory over Kilmarnock two weekends ago, but after making a return as a late substitute in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Aberdeen, he’s now looking forward to the final two clashes with Hearts and Rangers.
And although he admitted he was at first wary, McGeouch insisted the mask has given him the confidence to play, saying: “I had it on in training and it was a wee bit uncomfortable at the start.
“I was a bit wary of jumping into tackles, but the more I wore it the more I got used to it and if it gets me back on the pitch then I just need to get on with it.
“You know you’ve got a fracture there and you need to protect yourself. You’ve got that in the back of your mind, but once the game starts and you get on the ball you forget about that and get on with your game.
“The mask is pretty solid, it’s high-tech stuff, built for sportsmen to wear. It’s good protection and it’s great I’ve got it. It would usually be four to six weeks of non-contact but the surgeon is quite happy with me to move forward and play with it on.”
Not surprisingly, McGeouch has found himself the butt of the training ground jokes. He said: “I get the ‘Batman’ and ‘Zorro’ shouts every couple of minutes. It’s a good laugh, but it’s good to get back playing. The vision is fine – unless I give the ball away and then I’ll claim it’s the mask!”
McGeouch, who has swept the boards with player of the year awards from supporters and his team-mates alike, would have been distraught to have missed Hibs’ final few games of the campaign.
“It was frustrating last week. I was itching to play and the mask wasn’t here on time. I went down south because the place in Edinburgh didn’t have an appointment and the place in England could do it the next day.
“I flew down and back in the same day to try to speed up the process and got measured up and that’s why it took a bit of time to get ready. A 3D scan was taken and sent away to a place in the Czech Republic, which makes them from carbon fibre.
“We were waiting for it over last weekend, but it didn’t arrive until Tuesday. I was gutted, it was a nice day, sunny and the boys were brilliant. It was hard watching in the stand knowing you’d put a lot of effort into this season.
“It’s been a long season and we’ve done well so far.
“These games are cup finals, so it’s good to be back. The next two games are huge. It’s in our hands to see where we end up.”