Nathan Wood addresses Neil Warnock comments as Hibs loanee reveals why he had to get out of Middlesbrough
It can’t be easy making your loan debut just days after the manager of your parent club has publicly questioned your decision to head out on a temporary basis for game-time, but that’s exactly what happened to Nathan Wood.
The Middlesbrough defender made his Hibs debut shortly after Boro boss Neil Warnock suggested the England Under-20 captain had been ‘badly advised’ by his representatives in moving to Easter Road, pointing to his lack of minutes on the pitch as he confirmed he was unable to recall Wood in the midst of a defensive crisis at the Riverside.
On top of Warnock’s remarks, Wood endured a nightmare bow in green and white as Dundee United swept to a 3-0 victory in the Capital last weekend, but the 19-year-old brushed off the veteran manager's comments.
"I haven’t spoken to him but waiting for your chance can be part of football sometimes. I have had to wait to get into the Hibs team but I didn’t come here thinking it was going to be a breeze and that I was going to come in and get in the team easily because this is a good team that has been winning games,” Wood said ahead of Hibs’ trip to Aberdeen.
"If the time is not right, you’ve just got to wait for your chance to come.
"And when it comes to the things he said about whether this loan is right for me, whether it is good or bad is up to me. It is up to me to make it a good loan, but I can only do that by training well week in, week out, and playing well.”
Wood enjoys a good relationship with Warnock but insisted that he had to leave the Riverside to try to advance his career.
“Everyone has their opinions on him, but he’s fine with me – I just needed to get out of Middlesbrough, as I didn’t really feel part of that squad or was playing enough games at my age,” Wood explained.
“That’s why I took it on myself to push for a loan. It was my decision. I could have went to League One or stayed at Boro, but I didn’t want to just be comfortable.
“I wanted to push to play games in an environment like this where it’s hard to get in to the team and you need to work hard to stay there.”
Wood has made no secret of his desire to play more games but is realistic enough to know that the onus is on him to prove he deserves to be in the team week in, week out.
“I want to play every single game. It is not easy sitting on the bench but you have got to try to be a good team player.
"I have been through it a lot at Middlesbrough. I have sat on the bench a lot and that is why I came out on loan, to try to get into the first team somewhere.
"I am used to waiting. You learn a lot about yourself and it does get hard but you have got to believe in yourself and come into training every day believing that you can get where you want to be.”
Despite being part of a defence that shipped three goals against the Terrors, Hibs boss Jack Ross was broadly positive about Wood’s contribution. Regardless, the centre-back is striving to be better.
"Of course it was good to get game time. I had to wait a while but that is part of football. It was good to play but the result was not what we were looking for.
"Hopefully, we can put that right on Saturday. I was hoping that I could perform better, and the team as well. But that is just football and it is something that you have to deal with.
"You will have bad performances and bad games – you win some, you lose some – and it is about how you bounce back.
"We are working hard to put things right on Saturday and then, hopefully, every single game after that. We don’t want to drop back to the level we were at on Saturday.
"You have got to move on. It is part of life and part of football. When you have bad days you watch the games back and pick up on bits you could have done better and look forward to your next game.
"You have to have that belief in yourself that you can put it right. If you play with fear or live in fear that you will fail then it can affect you. You have got to be positive and look ahead.”
Wood has come up against some of the Aberdeen players before and is wary of the threat the Dons can pose as they seek to arrest a run of five straight defeats.
"I know a few players like Teddy Jenks who was at Brighton and Matty Longstaff – who I faced when he was with Newcastle under-23s.
“That will be an interesting one! I don’t know him personally but went up against him a good few times going right back to the under-14s.
“The derbies can get a bit feisty; I remember beating them 3-1 at St James’ Park which was a nice feeling.
“I watched Aberdeen’s game against Celtic and we know it will be a tough test, but one we are ready for.
“I don’t look at teams’ form. Every game is a new game. Teams could have lost five on the bounce but anything can happen in 90 minutes.
“It’s about our approach and if we get it right as a team, we can beat anyone in this league.”