Matt Macey: Why Hibs need third goalkeeper, Tierney advice, Wenger praise, Plymouth experience

Hibs have confirmed the arrival of English goalkeeper Matt Macey as Jack Ross shapes his squad for the second half of the season.
Matt Macey is Hibs' first signing of the January transfer windowMatt Macey is Hibs' first signing of the January transfer window
Matt Macey is Hibs' first signing of the January transfer window

The 26-year-old joined Arsenal in 2013 but played just twice for the Gunners, spending time on loan at Accrington Stanley, Luton Town, and Plymouth Argyle.

He has European experience both as a starter and substitute and is eager for regular gametime having spent the latter part of the 2019/20 season and early part of the current campaign on the bench for Mikel Arteta’s side.

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Easter Road chiefs have already recalled the highly-rated Kevin Dabrowski from his loan spell with Dumbarton following Dillon Barnes' return to parent club QPR but with Ofir Marciano sidelined for the next two to three weeks Ross moved quickly to bring in the Bath-born shot-stopper to increase his options between the sticks, with goalkeeping coach Craig Samson having been named on the bench on a handful of occasions already this term.

Macey in action for Arsenal during a Carabao Cup clash with NorwichMacey in action for Arsenal during a Carabao Cup clash with Norwich
Macey in action for Arsenal during a Carabao Cup clash with Norwich

Betfred bow?

Hibs are scheduled to play St Johnstone in the Betfred Cup semi-final on January 23 but with Marciano a major doubt for that fixture and Dabrowski cup-tied following his participation in the competition’s earlier stages with the Sons, the arrival of Macey ensures Ross will not have to resort to handing Samson his first competitive match since November 2018.

Assuming Marciano does not recover in time, the 36-year-old will almost certainly take up a spot on the bench as back-up to Macey as Hibs target a place in the competition final.

Tierney advice

Macey spent the 2018/19 season on loan at Plymouth ArgyleMacey spent the 2018/19 season on loan at Plymouth Argyle
Macey spent the 2018/19 season on loan at Plymouth Argyle

Former Celtic defender Kieran Tierney was a team-mate of Macey’s at Arsenal and it was the Scotland internationalist who convinced the goalkeeper he was making the right move. He told Hibs’ website: “I spoke to Kieran at length about Hibs, Scottish football, and the country in general.

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"He was really positive about every aspect of it, whether it was the club or Edinburgh itself. I was already keen to come but it was good to hear him talk so enthusiastically about it all. He backed up the gut feeling I had.”

Ironically, Macey could make his debut against Tierney’s former club on Monday night when Hibs return to action.

He continued: “It would be a great one to start with. It’s already come up in conversation with Kieran – he isn’t exactly subtle about the team he supports so I think the well-wishes from him would last until kick-off.

"It would be an exciting game to be involved in. I’m fit and raring to go.”

Cech mate and Auba bonus

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In his time at Arsenal Macey had the chance to work alongside some top goalkeepers including Wojciech Szczesny, David Ospina, and his childhood idol Petr Cech. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph in September last year, Macey spoke of working alongside the Czech veteran.

"To work with Petr was like a childhood dream. It is the mental side of it, the psychology, that separates the best from the rest. I have been lucky enough to see who I think are two of the best in that area in Petr and in Bernd [Leno], who never looks fazed by anything.

"Learning how to do that and how to respond after a bad game, seeing it in the flesh, is the biggest thing I will ever take away from these goalkeepers.”

Macey feels he learned a lot at the Emirates but is now desperate for regular action.

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He added: “Arsenal gave me a great education and I worked with some amazing coaches and players. I had some incredible experiences, especially on the road for some big games. You also get plenty of practice in training trying to save shots from some world class attackers – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sticks out.

"He has a real killer instinct. In some sessions it can feel like a bonus just to save one or two of his shots.

" I always took my responsibilities there seriously. You can still make an impact in your own way by working to a high level and challenging the people around you in training, but I feel like I’m at a point when I really want to be playing games.”

Plymouth test

Macey endured a tough season on loan with Plymouth Argyle during the 2018/19 season as the Pilgrims were relegated and he conceded 70 goals in 38 appearances. While several Argyle fans have described the ‘keeper’s stint with them in words not fitting for a family newspaper or website, some supporters reasoned that the Home Park side's demotion from League One back to League Two owed a lot to the club’s failure to upgrade in defence. Macey was also brought in after Argyle failed to secure the services of promotion-winning loanee ‘keeper Remi Matthews, a favourite with the club's supporters.

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Speaking about his experience Macey said last summer: “I am desperate to get back to that environment again. It was a tough season but I got a lot out of it personally.

“Having that responsibility on my shoulders is the sort of challenge I want to face every morning when I wake up.”

Wenger praise

Although Macey’s outings for Arsenal were sporadic he did receive praise from former Gunners boss Arsene Wenger following his performance in a goalless draw with Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League.

The Frenchman said: “I think he took his chance very well. He is huge, he is quick, and you don’t often find that combination; of that size and that speed. He is very agile.

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"Matt came to us late; normally goalkeepers come at 16, but he came at 20. But he is very focused, and that is what I was pleased to give him a chance tonight, and he took it.”

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