'You could hear the buzz when his name was announced.' Paul Hanlon welcomes Scott Allan return to Hibs' starting line-up
Scott Allan made his long-anticipated return to the Hibs starting line-up on Thursday night and although it was a fleeting appearance, it was clear that his team-mates, the Easter Road fans and the player himself enjoyed his time on the pitch.
His first competitive start for the Leith side in almost a year after he was sidelined for a significant period of last term with a heart condition, while he saw out the campaign on loan to Championship side Inverness Caledonian Thistle, there was a sense of celebration at his reinstatement to Jack Ross’ starting XI for the Conference League Euro qualifier.
“He is almost like a new signing even though we are all familiar with him,” said captain Paul Hanlon who has been a team-mate and friend of the talismanic midfielder during his three different spells at Hibs
“He’s had a few spells at Hibs now. But, in terms of bringing a different dynamic to the squad this season he will do that. We just need to make sure he is fit and raring to go.
“But you could hear the buzz when his name was announced before the game. He is the type of player fans pay to come and watch.”
That frisson of excitement rippled around the ground whenever the 29 year-old got on the ball and there was disappointment when he was withdrawn after just half an hour after Joe Newell’s red card forced a shuffle in personnel.
“It was frustrating but I’m sure he had an idea he would be the one sacrificed,” added Hanlon, who conceded that the first leg of their opening Euro tie had been more eventful that he expected but he was happy to take the 3-0 lead into next week’s second leg. “He will be disappointed by that but he will understand at the same time. It is just great to have him back in the squad.”
Although it was tough to watch him suffer on the sidelines last term Hanlon revealed that the enforced medical absence and fear that he may have to hang up his boots has given the former Celtic playmaker extra drive.
“He would come out and stand by the manager at training and watch and a few us were thinking ‘if we were in his position I don't think we could stand and watch'. But he wanted to be involved and, all credit to him. He had a strong mindset and I’m just delighted for him now,.
“He lives for football and you can tell that in the way he plays.
“I think he now really appreciates every minute he has on a football pitch. You could see how much he enjoyed it. That is only going to benefit us because he is a great football player. He is a player that can really make us better this year.
“There are not many of Scott’s type in the league, especially Scottish players, so we are lucky to have him and he is delighted to be back on the pitch.
“He does say that scare is still on his mind and he realises how lucky he is to be in this position. So, if he can use that as a motivator then it can only help him and us as a club going forward."