John McGinn has spoken for the first time about the freak training ground accident which left him covered in blood and brought his season to a premature end.
The 20-year-old was left on crutches and requiring hospital treatment after being “speared” by a training pole thrown by St Mirren skipper Steven Thompson, who was left “mortified” by the incident.
And, although the initial thought of Hibs’ latest signing was “is my leg going to be okay?” the damage proved not to be as serious as first thought, the only evidence it ever took place being a small scar.
Saints’ squad were taking part in a dribbling drill when Thompson lost possession to McGinn and stumbled into two poles which were intended for the players to run through, Thompson throwing one in jest at his team-mate, intending to hit the ground behind him. But to his horror, the Scotland Under-21 midfielder suddenly changed direction and was hit.
As a result, McGinn missed the final five games of last season as the Buddies crashed out of the Premiership to join his new club in the Championship, the youngster having turned down the offer of a new deal from the Paisley club as he weighed up his options which not only included a number of top-flight outfits but Houston Dynamo in America’s MLS.
Now, though, McGinn is ready for action again, Hibs boss Alan Stubbs revealing he could even play a part in today’s opening Championship match against Dumbarton, saying: “John has surprised us with his fitness. He’s very close but to throw him in at the deep end in our first real competitive match would be a big ask.
“But I think John is one of those who will just adapt and get on with it, he seems that kind of player.”
Today, however, McGinn admitted he had suffered a major scare on that day back in April at Saints’ Ralston training ground. He said: “At the time, all I could think about was ‘is my leg going to be okay?’ Thankfully, the doctor was on the scene right away and I’ll be forever grateful to Gerry Canning for being on the spot. The physios and staff were really good.
“Thankfully, it missed the serious muscles in my leg or it could have been a lot worse. There was a lot of blood, but I can’t really remember much because it happened so quickly. I just remember looking down and I’m glad the pole came straight back out.
“I’m just glad to have fully recovered. I’m lucky in that it could have been worse. I was only out for six to eight weeks, which was good. I’ve got a scar, but it’s only small.”
News that McGinn had given St Mirren notice he wasn’t intending to renew his contract naturally aroused great interest but, he revealed, it was Graeme Mathie, Hibs’ head of player identification and recruitment, who was one of the first to make a move.
He said: “Hibs were persistent. From the start of the summer transfer window, Graeme Mathie was on my case and made it clear how much I was wanted and how much I would develop. I’m lucky, I come from a very humble and hard-working family. We discuss everything together. It was the next four years of my career so the move had to be the right one. I wasn’t rushing into anything and making a silly decision. We all thought Hibs was a no-brainer.
“I wasn’t desperate to leave St Mirren, I told them at the end of last season I would keep my options open, but I didn’t feel I developed in the last year the way I had in the two previous to it.
“I needed a fresh start and hopefully I can develop under this manager because he’s really impressed me. He said to me that he gives his players the freedom to play and you could see that last year.”