Niklas Gunnarsson has told Hibs fans they are about to see the best of him now he is finally hitting peak fitness.
The Norwegian defender was Alan Stubbs’ second signing of the January transfer window, a surprise arrival after his loan spell with Swedish outfit Elfsborg came to an end.
And he was immediately thrown into action as Hibs began their Scottish Cup campaign away to Raith Rovers, lasting just 54 minutes before being replaced by Darren McGregor at right back in the 2-0 win at Stark’s Park.
Since then the 25-year-old has featured just twice, starting in the 1-0 Championship win over Morton and then coming on for injured skipper David Gray early in the second half at Tynecastle to play his part in Hibs comeback from two goals down to force a Scottish Cup fifth round replay at Easter Road on Tuesday.
Today Gunnarsson, who is on loan from Norwegian top flight club Valerenga, said: “When I came here I hadn’t played football for six weeks. My last game in Sweden was at the end of October so I hadn’t touched a ball since then.
“At first I also had a lot of things to do that weren’t football, getting an apartment, sorting out the television, getting a national insurance number, a telephone and so on. But I was also trying to train a lot, doing extra running and upper-body work so I was feeling a bit tired.
“But I’ve been getting better and better. Now I feel good and hopefully I will be 100 per cent in one or two weeks.”
Meanwhile, head coach Stubbs has backed striker Anthony Stokes to quickly start finding the net from free-kicks after seeing a couple of attempts go wayward at Tynecastle, to the obvious annoyance of team-mate Liam Henderson, who has scored from a couple of set-pieces already this season.
Stubbs said: “Anthony will stay on them – but he has to put one in the top corner. He’s a confident boy. After the first one a lot of players wouldn’t take the second one, but it shows you how he is.
“Hendo has chipped in with a few goals for us, but it won’t be long before Stokesy does.”
And Stubbs revealed he’ll leave it up to the players to sort it out among themselves as to who should take a pot at goal in such situations. He said: “They are the ones who have to make big decisions. They see it. I’m not on the pitch to see it for them. As long as there’s not a squabble, I have no problem with that.”