Farid El Alagui is feeling good on and off the pitch as he embarks on life as an Edinburgh City striker.
The former Hibs frontman has signed on at Ainslie Park until the end of the season after a period training with the Ladbrokes League Two club.
A history of injuries has meant El Alagui has missed a fair chunk of football in previous years, but with two successive 90 minutes and back playing in the city that has now become his adopted home, the ex-Falkirk man is in a good place.
“I’m local and Edinburgh City is right next door so it’s good to be in Edinburgh – it’s a nice feeling,” said the Bordeaux native. “I’ve been here a while now so I’m used to the city and enjoy life here.
“I knew the previous manager Gary Jardine and at the start he just asked me to come in and train with them to keep my fitness up. That’s what I’d been doing. Then there was a change of manager and he asked me to play as a trialist for fitness. I agreed and it felt good, so I decided to sign.
“You can train as much as you want, but you can’t replace games – they’re important. I’m feeling much better and much fitter.”
Some may naturally question El Alagui’s compatibility with artificial surfaces given previous injuries. There are an abundance of them in League Two, one of which he’ll be playing on every other weekend, but he explained he’s used to them by now so the 4G isn’t cause for concern.
“It wasn’t ideal when I was coming back from injury at Hibs,” he recalled. “We would try to avoid me playing on it as much as we could. After that when I came back, I felt alright so the confidence to do it was there.
“I’ve played on astro quite a few times since. At Dunfermline we trained on it and it was the same at Ayr United. I’ve been training on it almost every day and there’s been no major issues.”
That spell at Easter Road coincided, albeit briefly, with current City boss James McDonaugh. “He was in charge of the 20s when I joined Hibs but he left not long after that so I hadn’t seen him for a little while,” El Alagui explained. “He was doing a good job for the 20s then left for Falkirk, and he had a successful period there. I knew how good he was.”
Alongside El Alagui, on-loan Falkirk striker Scott Shepherd forms City’s new-look attack and the two appear to compliment each other’s style well. “He’s got great movement and knows how to run in behind,” said the French-Moroccan. “I’m someone who likes to link up the play and come short so it’s a good profile. We get on well together too.
“He’s still young, but he’s got a good understanding of the game and gives us the movement we need. It’s been great to play with him and I’m looking forward to it producing more.”
An effective striking duo would come in especially handy tomorrow as City play their biggest game of the season so far.
Cowdenbeath visit as the only side below City in the table and just a point behind, albeit having played a game more.
A point last week at home to Annan made up ground with City idle and a first win for new manager Gary Bollan would allow them to leapfrog their opponents.
“It’s a massive game for both teams,” said El Alagui. “Neither can really afford to lose it. For us, we want to climb up the league. We have good players and can definitely be higher than we are at the moment.
“We need to carry on doing what we’ve been doing – working hard. If we don’t do anything stupid, we can get the three points. We aren’t too worried about it.
“When you get a new manager everyone wants to show how good they are. They will be at it, but I don’t think they needed a new manager for that. When you look at the league position, it already puts you on your toes.
“I’m sure they’ll want it as much as we want it, but I’m not going to lie, I’m not scared of anyone in the league. If we cut out one or two silly mistakes, I’m sure we can get the three points, no doubt.”