How James Jeggo fared on Hibs debut after being pitched into cup derby battle in makeshift midfield trio
It has been quite the weekend for James Jeggo. Announced as a new Hibs signing on Saturday at 5pm, and making his debut 21 hours later in the white-hot atmosphere of an Edinburgh derby, with an added Scottish Cup twist.
The Australian completed a somewhat cobbled-together midfield trio for Hibs alongside Josh Campbell and Lewis Stevenson with Joe Newell suspended, and injury ruling out Jake Doyle-Hayes and Kyle Magennis. Would he have started if all Hibs midfielders were fit? It’s hard to say, but at 30 years old and with gametime in the Belgian, Greek, Austrian, and Australian top flights he has experience that the likes of Campbell, Doyle-Hayes, and Magennis lack.
He certainly put himself about in the early exchanges, thundering into tackles and cutting out play when he could. He picked up a booking on 17 minutes for a fairly industrial challenge to prevent Barrie McKay from bearing down on the box, which impacted the remainder of his performance, but it was probably the right decision at the time to avoid Hearts launching another attack.
Despite the visitors’ central pairing of Robert Snodgrass and Cammy Devlin, which has rightly won plaudits in recent weeks, Hibs’ makeshift midfield didn’t look as weak as it first appeared and speaking afterwards, manager Lee Johnson praised the Vienna-born midfielder’s performance.
“I thought he did well. He turned up on Saturday and has had one night’s sleep, doesn’t know anybody. We were short in midfield with Joe Newell suspended, Kyle Magennis injured and out for two to three weeks, maybe more. Jake Doyles-Hayes is out as well so it was sink or swim for James and he did well, given the circumstances.”
Perhaps understandably Jeggo began to fade in the second half and was replaced by Harry McKirdy on 73 minutes. Had Hibs had greater strength in depth on the bench, he might have been replaced earlier.
It would be harsh on the player to fully judge him on one appearance, but there was just about enough in his showing to suggest he can be a good addition. Hibs have been crying out for a player in his mould for some time but they are in dire need of more experience and more leadership on the park if they are to turn things around.