Hibs’ Sodje ready to step in if O’Connor banned

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Akpo SODJE today revealed he is in prime condition to pick up the mantle of Hibs’ main goal-scoring threat should talisman Garry O’Connor become unavailable in the coming weeks.

Sodje became the club’s second-top goal-scorer last season with six goals in three months after joining Hibs in January, but lost his place as first-pick centre-forward when O’Connor arrived in summer.

Now, the former Charlton Athletic hitman has revealed he is undertaking extra training sessions to keep pace with regular starter O’Connor, who will learn soon whether or not he will incur a two-match ban for an alleged dive in Hibs’ last home game against St Johnstone.

“You never lose that sharpness or the ability to score goals,” said Sodje. “But, I’m not sure that’s the case with match fitness, so I’ve been doing extra training just because I’ve not been involved. It keeps me fit and there are games we play behind closed doors for match fitness. To get back in the team – that’s my main goal right now.”

Hibs’ fitness coach Jim Hendry has helped Sodje remain match fit despite making seven substitute appearances and starting just once this season. The English centre-forward scored after beginning the 5-0 League Cup win over Berwick Rangers, but has seen his opportunities limited by the presence in the first team of O’Connor, Junior Agogo and Leigh Griffiths.

“I’ve been doing all sorts of training as a striker and extra fitness training,” explained the striker. “Jim has been taking me after training, so I’m fully fit. The manager knows that, and I’m just waiting for my chance. When it comes, I’m going to take it just as I did before.”

“Sometimes I do it on my own [with Jim], sometimes with other guys who want to do extra work. I’ve been working hard and hopefully it will pay off soon. Jim has been brilliant with us and kept us nice and fit. We’ve worked closely together and hopefully it will pay off by the time I get my chance in the team again.”