Why Hibs boss Lee Johnson has had to 'nail' Paul Hanlon and Harry McKirdy
Hibs manager Lee Johnson has revealed he had to have stern words with club captain Paul Hanlon earlier this season – after the Easter Road stalwart undertook extra training.
The Capital club’s medical staff have had a host of injuries to deal with so far this campaign including knee ligament issues, concussion, ankle, and groin problems and Johnson revealed on Thursday that striker Momodou Bojang faced a spell on the sidelines after doing unsanctioned extra work away from East Mains.
While the Hibs boss is keen not to punish players for trying to improve, he admitted that it was a balancing act in terms of ensuring his team was in tip-top condition and warning them not to over-exert themselves.
“Listen, what happens when you get an injury that is muscular or ligament based, non-contact, it is black-box thinking,” he explained.
“You have to look at yourself and ask, ‘have I got the set up or training wrong? Have I left him out too long? Should we have not done weights that day?’
“All those thoughts come in then you look at dehydration, the questionnaire that the boys do, you look at the supplements and whether they’ve taken them, you look at body fat. And then you find out what’s really happened.
“So, you have the conversation with the players and they tell you, ‘oh yeah, actually, I’ve done this and this’."
Confirming that it wasn’t just younger players like Bojang, who went on two lengthy street runs and strained his groin, trying to do extra, Johnson used the example of Hanlon taking matters into his own hands four or five weeks ago.
“Paul was due to be off on the Saturday and Sunday and then a four-day lead in [to a game] but he felt a bit rusty so went out for a run. I then had to stop him training on the Tuesday because I didn’t want him training five days in a row,” Johnson continued.
“That’s Paul Hanlon, who is very experienced and should know better. But by being over-professional and not thinking clearly, he has come in and done a session that was not conducive to him starting and playing well on the Saturday, so we have got to be on them all the time for various reasons.
“They have come from different levels of professionalism as well. If I showed you some of the pitches that Momodou has been playing on [in Gambia] and the video footage that we have seen, it is like dust.”
It isn’t just youngsters or experienced players either, with Johnson explaining that the diverse nature of his squad means there are a lot of different personalities to deal with, ranging from the veteran David Marshall who has spent two decades in the upper echelons of the game to players like Nohan Kenneh and Jair Tavares who are playing first-team football at this level for the first time.
“Then there’s Harry McKirdy, who, with all due respect, has come from League 2 environments and there is a big focus on his professionalism,” Johnson added.
“He’s been in three or four weeks and there are times when I have had to nail him – but in a nice way!
“I’ve said ‘look, you’re a top player but we will make you better’.”