It’s been a long road to recovery for Hibs Ladies winger Lizzie Arnot.
Not only did a ruptured ACL in March last year ensure her season was over before it started, but Arnot was left on the sidelines as her team-mates went on to claim a second consecutive cup double, not to mention her heartache at missing out on representing Scotland at last summer’s European Championships.
Nevertheless, Arnot is back with a vengeance and determined to make up for lost time. The 22-year-old has made a steady contribution this term with the Hibees sitting joint top of SWPL 1 and she is now looking forward to tomorrow’s SWPL Cup final against Celtic at the Falkirk Stadium.
“It’s great to be back playing again after a really tough 2017,” Arnot said. “I’m just glad to be involved at a time where we’ve got some exciting games coming up starting with tomorrow.
“Cup finals are the games every player wants to be involved in. I had my operation just over a year ago so I just look forward now and it would be great to win the trophy again.”
Hibs defeated Celtic 4-1 in last year’s final at Broadwood but it was a time when Arnot was still trying to come to terms with the severity of her injury.
“No-one expects that kind of injury to happen but I just had to focus on what I could do to come back stronger,” she said. “Having the support of my family and friends made a huge difference and also the support from Hibs too. But I’m not going to lie, it was pretty tough. I was so grateful for all the support, though, as not every player gets so much care and attention. My knee feels pretty much back to normal now.
“When I started back training there were days when it would stiffen up but the surgeon told me that’s all part of the healing process. I don’t think about it now and feel I can get back to playing what I was like before the injury.”
Arnot stepped off the bench in the second half as Grant Scott’s side came from a goal down to see off Hamilton Accies 5-1 in Wednesday night’s league encounter at Easter Road. However, she is hoping for a place in the starting line-up tomorrow.
“The players we have brought in this year have really strengthened the squad which has made for more competition. You definitely have to earn your place in the team.”
Meanwhile, head coach Scott admits his job is becoming harder by the week in trying to pick his first XI. The former Hearts Women assistant boss took over from Kevin Milne who resigned in March.
“One or two who came in on Wednesday night have given me food for thought. It’s difficult to say to those who aren’t in the starting line-up but I will always explain to them why. I like to be open and honest with the players,” Scott said.
“The players have been absolutely fantastic since I took over. I haven’t changed a lot of things and they’ve responded so well.
“Kevin and I are friends outwith football so I’ve seen him a few times since. It was out of the blue when he left but he felt he had to do what he did.
“I almost feel embarrassed I didn’t see it coming as I was his right-hand man. It was largely for personal reasons but that doesn’t make it any easier. That said, when I have seen him since he seems in a much better place.
“On the basis of our performances this season we start as favourites tomorrow. But Celtic have definitely improved from last year so we know we have to be on our game if we are to win. We’ve already played them in the league and won (3-1) so we know what to expect but I have a huge amount of faith in the girls.”