Hibs stalwart: 'New boys must have thought I was just some guy floating around the training ground ...'

Ibrox challenge a thrill for defender after long-term injury absence
Cadden - in the centre of the picture - is thrilled to be part of team again.Cadden - in the centre of the picture - is thrilled to be part of team again.
Cadden - in the centre of the picture - is thrilled to be part of team again.

A few of them might have mistaken him for a physio. As possibly the only people who spent more time in the treatment room than Chris Cadden himself, so there’s a certain logic to that. Finally rid of his regular spot on the treatment table, the fullback can laugh about some of his newer team-mates potentially feeling a little confused over his exact role at the club …

Cadden, not yet an even half-dozen games into a comeback from Achilles’ surgery that kept him out for the best part of nine months, laughed as he admitted: “That was probably the first time a lot of the boys had played with me, two weeks ago. To them, I was just a guy who has been floating around the training ground for nine months … then they suddenly realised that this guy is an actual football player! So it was nice to play and show a bit of what I’m about, a little bit.

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“It does make it hard to get to know folk when you’re not training. That’s probably the hardest thing about being injured, especially with all the changes at the club. You’ve got to come in and show everybody, players and coaches, what you can do.

“Once you get thrown back into first team training, you go: ‘Wow! This is quick.' It’s just about getting up to speed. It only took a couple of weeks until I felt I was doing all right. But there were a couple of times when I was thinking: ‘Wow, this is quick, I need to get back up there …’

“It’s such a good level in training. The standard of player is really, really up there. So you need to be able to deal with it. I think I adapted well.

“When the manager first came in, I think I was in every meeting. He was probably sitting there thinking: ‘Have you not got any rehab to do?’ I was in those meetings because I wanted to learn as much as I could, take in as much as possible, so it could be seamless when I did get thrown in.

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“But the boys hadn’t seen me play. Because of the changes, it was nice to play with a lot of the new boys, having watched them. I knew what they were about.

“I think they know what I’m about now. I think so. I’m doing the best I can. Hopefully they can see I like a wee overlap or two!”

If it was tough enough proving himself to the summer signings who had never seen him play, Cadden definitely felt levels increase with the arrival of seven new recruits – cut to six after Owen Bevan failed to get himself fit – during the January window. With the likes of Myziane Maolida, Emi Marcondes, Nectar Triantis and Nathan Moriah-Welsh making their mark, standards have been cranked up a notch or two.

“The recruitment has been really good, and the new boys have made an impact,” said Cadden. “That’s what the gaffer said when he was looking to bring new players in, he wanted them to make an impact in the first 11.

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“Myz, Emiliano, even Alfie (Adam le Fondre) against Livingston, the boys have done really well. Nathan and Nectar in the middle of the park too. The standard has been great and it’s good to come into that quality of player and play with these guys

“I think that’s why it was important for me to be in the team meetings. Also with the way the gaffer wants to play. There was a lot of change and a lot of meetings to prepare us. It was good to come in and look and review games. To see what he’s wanting people to do and where it’s sometimes going wrong.

“There’s not really any reason why I shouldn’t be in trying to learn as much as possible. I can’t be on the grass but I can try to study as much as I can in here so I can adapt.”

Refreshed by a long weekend in “sunny Motherwell, the best place in the world,” as he describes it, Cadden is feeling strong – between the ears as well as in the legs – after playing more minutes than scheduled for someone coming back after a long absence. A niggling injury to Lewis Miller means the right back has been forced into service, including playing three games in a week just before the international break.

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He said: “Do you know what? I’ve actually felt really good. Playing the Rangers game, with everything that happened, it was over 100 minutes. I think doing that was a first tick in the box, my first start and going for 100 minutes, that felt great.

“I just had a little bit of a tight hammy after about 65, 66 minutes of the Livi game, which is why I came off. But I’ve felt really good. The physio staff here have been unbelievable. And I’ve ticked every single box. I’ve not really felt like I’m lacking anything in terms of physical fitness. So it was good to get three games in a week, to emphasise that.

“Ross County away, Rangers in the Cup, they were big games with a lot of nerves. So just to get through those, to feel like I was back, to then play against Livi and get the win, it was good. I feel like I’m back, feel like I’m part of it. When you get a win on the Saturday, it helps you feel as if you’re back involved in something positive.”

It goes without saying that Cadden is eager to play his part in a historic win at Ibrox tomorrow. To be honest, just being there will feel like a major step.

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“These are the games you work so hard in the gym for,” he said, adding: “These are the games I’ve grafted for nine months for. The main thing is to go and enjoy it and give the best version of yourself that you can

“That’s one thing I have realised since I got back. How much I have missed it. It’s easy to get dragged into moaning about what’s happened and not been done right but I appreciate we have the best job in the world here. I love playing football so when I’m out there I need to enjoy it and do the best I can because I was a long time without it. I missed the Saturdays, floating around here was tough, so I keep telling myself to appreciate it.”

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