Ice cold Hibs star Jordan modelling game on Liverpool and England ace

Left back revelling in opportunity to create chances

With an increased workload and extra attacking responsibilities now just part of the daily deal for Jordan Obita, is it any wonder he’s relying on regular ice baths to keep himself cool, calm and collected in the heat of battle?

The attacking left back, casting himself as a mirror image of Liverpool hero Trent Alexander-Arnold, showed Hibs fans a tantalising glimpse of his crossing ability with a wicked delivery – left agonisingly unconverted by Martin Boyle – in Saturday’s dogged home draw with Celtic.

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That he managed to do that in the second half of a game that saw the Hibs fullbacks put in ferocious defensive shifts says something about the Englishman’s overall fitness levels.

But it’s the quality shown by Obita that is causing so much excitement at Easter Road. The thought of him regularly whipping in killer balls from the left is quite the prospect.

Laughing as he was asked what he’d said to Boyle about the striker being unable to score from his early delivery, Obita said: “At the time I thought. ‘How has he missed?’ But it was quite difficult. I put a lot of pace on the ball.

“For me, I want to get into that position more often and get balls in the box as much as I can.

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“It’s massive for me, getting balls in the box quick and early is a big part of my game. I love playing out from the back as well. The higher I can be up the pitch, the better.

“A lot of the assists in my game have been from really wide crosses and I find, in this league, that most teams play quite a high line. So if I can get it in behind them, I know we have the quality up front to put the ball in the net.

“I’m a Liverpool fan so I watch them all the time. That’s what I am trying to do as well.

“I wasn’t a full back when I first came through, I was more of a central midfielder, winger.

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“Since I’ve come into full-back, I probably look at Trent. He is a great example because his deliveries are unbelievable and I do find, if you put the ball in the right area, the chance of scoring is really high.”

In the 4-4-2 system as played by new manager Nick Montgomery, both fullbacks are given plenty of responsibility on both sides of the ball. Expected to generate width in attack, provide an out ball for the goalkeeper if playing short isn’t on and defend like terriers, it sounds like an exhausting gig.

“It is really intense,” admitted Obita, the former Wycombe player adding: “We have to try to stop crosses getting into the box, focus on being really narrow, get forward and get back, so it is quite hard.

“But we showed we can do it against the best team in the league on Saturday. If we can do it against them, we can do it against anybody.

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“I’ve always been quite fit but, for the last couple of years, I’d been playing a more defensive style of football.

“Since the gaffer has come in here, it has been more intense. Us fullbacks are getting used to it. And I think it shows, on game day, that our fullbacks are quite fit.

“Our training loads have gone up massively, which helps us a lot, especially in the last 20 or 30 minutes of a game. Where we might have suffered from fatigue before, now we’re feeling good heading into the closing stages of a game.”

It’s not just the extra work in training that keeps players going in the closing 20 minutes of a tight tussle, of course. Diet is a huge factor. Rest plays a crucial role. And, although a lot of sports scientists have gone cold on the benefits of footballers freezing their appendages off in the name of recovery, Obita still swears by cold-water immersion therapy.

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“I actually like ice baths,” he confessed, grinning as he revealed: “At home in England, I had a little portable ice bath that I would go in every single night – regardless of whether it was winter or summer.

“Maybe I’m strange but I don’t mind doing it. Whether me doing it for 15 minutes or five minutes makes a difference, I don’t know. But, mentally, it does for me.

“It makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing, staying strong. It helps me get fresh for a game a day our two ahead of playing, too.

“I don’t have an ice bath at home here, just at the training ground here. As soon as I’m finished here, I’ll be right into it.

“Just get in and focus. Breathe. Focus on your breathing. Hopefully there’s someone around to talk to, as well!”

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