Kyle Magennis opens up on 370 days of Hibs injury hell and Lee Johnson's 'massive' gesture

Things were looking up for Kyle Magennis in January 2022, after more than three months on the sidelines.

The Hibs midfielder hadn’t kicked a ball since late September but under new management, was confident of regaining fitness and being able to contribute to the second half of the season.

He had the backing of new manager Shaun Maloney and was eager to get back out on the pitch in a bid to recapture his early-season form.

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Then came a bounce game, the bounce game, as he attempted to build up match sharpness ahead of a planned reintroduction to the first-team squad.

"I came out with my groin, got an injection in that and it settled it down. I got myself back, played a bounce game and did a bit of cartilage in my knee and ended up having to get an operation on my knee and my groin. A bit of a disaster that,” Magennis says, as he reflects on a nightmare 12 months.

"The lowest point was coming back to play in that bounce game. I played on, I felt a bit in my knee but played on,” he recalls.

"I was only meant to play an hour, so I came off in the 60th minute and watched the rest of the game. I went to stretch my leg out and it felt so tight, I remember thinking, ‘oh no’. We got a scan and it showed there was a bit of damage.

"Shaun Maloney was really supportive. He gave me a FaceTime after my operation and said, ‘don’t worry about it, we believe in you - just get yourself back’.”

Kyle Magennis is back and ready to make an impact for Hibs

Magennis certainly wasn’t short of company in the treatment room at East Mains with numerous players joining him on the sidelines.

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"When you’re in there everyday you only have each other so you have to support each other. It’s just us and the physios while everyone else is out training,” he says.

"You need to be tight with each other; me and Kevin Nisbet have become quite close because we were out for a quite a period of time. He’s not far away either and looking good so it’s exciting.”

The psychological aspect of long-term injuries is perhaps one factor that doesn’t receive as much focus. The player wants to get back on the pitch, fans want him back on the pitch, and the manager wants him back on the pitch. But it can be a lonely road working separately to the rest of the group.

Magennis returned to action for the first time in over a year when he made a late substitute appearance last weekend against Ross County
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"I was more disappointed last season getting injured than any other time. I thought I was doing so well and thought I was getting to that next level – bringing goals to my game and assists; I never really had that before. My goals record wasn’t that great,” the 24-year-old adds.

"It was a bit disappointing when I was in that run of form to then get injured. The amount of injuries I’ve had in my career, I do feel like every time I’ve come back I’ve come back stronger and hopefully this happens again.

“When I get a run of games hopefully I can get back there. I feel confident in training, I need to be able to get on to the pitch to do that. I’m sure I’ll be able to show that.”

One thing in Magennis’ favour is the support of Maloney’s successor Lee Johnson. How hard is it to impress a new manager when you can’t even train, let alone play a competitive game?

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"It’s frustrating because when he first came in I wasn’t able to train or show him what I could do,” Magennis reveals.

"He spoke to me when he got announced, he gave me a phone and said: “Listen, I’ve heard good things, just be patient and we’ll be here for you’.

"When he phoned me I was absolutely buzzing just to know he was still thinking about me and made me feel part of the team.

"It was massive; you would have other gaffers that might come in and try to rush me back knowing what my performances were like last year.

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"It’s good to get someone who understands, the same with the rest of the staff as well. I knew I needed time to build myself back up and I think I’ve done that really well.”

Magennis – once described by midfield colleague Joe Newell as a ‘little beast when it comes to pumping weights… a little tank’ – looks to have bulked up even more during his time on the sidelines, and has been trying to build his legs up as well as do a bit of upper-body work.

Welcoming him back to the fold, his manager spoke in glowing terms about what the former St Mirren man can bring to the Hibs team.

"Kyle's a great addition, very dynamic, he's tough, he's combative and he's got goals in him,” Johnson explained.

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"He came on last weekend [against Ross County] and made three major contributions in 10 minutes.

"I see him as someone who's got key passes and key shot actions. He's a number eight who can step into the ten position but also pick up the ball and receive it a little bit deeper. Certainly his energy and front-foot thinking and sharpness to get up the pitch is the bit I like about him.

"We've seen his personality from the first day. We were trying to drip-feed him in but straight away he was hitting big 50/50 tackles. He's an all-or-nothing player who plays with his heart on his sleeve, which is why fans like him and team-mates respect him and his managers want him in the team."

Magennis is eager to repay his manager’s faith.

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"I work hard every time I’m out in training and games. I give it my all. I’m always confident in my ability. If he wants to start me I’m sure I won’t let him down.”