'I loved it' - Loanee thanks Hibs for 'great experience' as he discusses future plans
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Burnley defender CJ Egan-Riley has thanked Hibs for making his loan stint at the club so enjoyable. The former Manchester City youngster joined up with Lee Johnson’s side in January and made 14 appearances, with an injury sustained in the 4-2 victory over Celtic ruling him out of the final-day shoot-put with Hearts for fourth place.
Speaking to the Clarets’ website he reflected on his half-season spell in Edinburgh, and confirmed that surgery will keep him sidelined for a while, with Johnson admitting it could be three to four months. Egan-Riley’s future remains unclear, partly because of the injury and partly because of Burnley’s return to the English top flight and the fact they are well stocked in defence. Nevertheless, the 20-year-old – who was filmed singing Hibs songs with supporters at the recent Player of the Year bash – is fully focused on regaining his fitness and going from there. He believes he is capable of performing in the English top flight but Johnson is understood to be keen on bringing the player back to Easter Road next season.
“I won’t be able to do anything for a couple of weeks, but then I will come back in and begin the rehab process with the medical and sports science staff,” he explained. “I will most likely do the whole of pre-season here at Burnley, get through the comeback, and then see where I am at. I just want to fully focus and concentrate on getting back fit and go from there and see what the plan is for me going forward. I haven’t really thought extensively about the summer.
“I’m confident enough in my own ability to think I can go back to Burnley and compete to play in the Premier League. I definitely feel I can go there, make an impact and have an effect on the Burnley team – if that’s what we agree to do."
Egan-Riley fulfilled a number of positions at Hibs, mostly as a holding midfielder and at right-back, but he did form an experimental partnership at centre-back alongside fellow youngster Will Fish in a 2-1 defeat by Dundee United. Mostly though, he was just glad to be playing regularly after a ‘tough’ first half of the season at Turf Moor.
“I enjoyed it a lot. It was a great experience for me, Edinburgh was a lovely city, and as a club they welcomed me in from day one. I loved it there. They put a lot of faith and trust in to me and everyone was great at the club with me.,” he continued.
“The first half of the season was tough, although it was enjoyable training and learning a lot. The second half of the season I was definitely in a better place mentally. As a footballer you obviously want to be playing week in, week out and since January when I went up there, I played every game. I played in some Edinburgh derbies, played against Celtic and Rangers which are massive games. The Edinburgh derby was crazy! Definitely the best atmosphere I have ever played in. Celtic away was also crazy; Celtic Park is a mad stadium. It was just great to experience these type of games and atmospheres.”