Hibs’ David Gray on why he’s happy to keep taking hits from Ofir Marciano
Hibs captain David Gray has told Ofir Marciano to continue dominating his penalty area in aggressive fashion – even though a collision with his goalkeeper left him poleaxed during the last Edinburgh derby.
As the on-form Easter Road side prepare to host Hearts this Sunday, the skipper recalled how he soldiered on through discomfort for much of the second half after being clattered in the neck by the Israeli towards the end of the first half in the 2-1 victory at Tynecastle earlier this month.
The right-back eventually had to be substituted in the 77th minutes as the effects of the collision - which included him being sick - took their toll. But Gray insists he’ll happily take another whack from Marciano as long as the keeper is commanding his area.
“I don’t mind that, to be honest with you,” said the captain. “It was a corner just before half-time. I say to him all the time that, if he needs to come for a cross, he’s just to clean me out – that’s fine as long as he gets the ball. I want him to come and clean me out every week, as long as he keeps getting the ball. I’ve no problem with that.”
With Gray looking groggy when he left the pitch at half-time at Tynecastle, many were surprised to see him continue in the second half. Although in discomfort, he insists he was still able to do his job for the team until eventually being replaced. “When it starts to affect the team, that’s when it becomes a problem,” he said. “As long as I feel I can play on and contribute to the team, I’m going to stay on and try my best.
“The medical staff help, as well. We’ve got an excellent medical team who were able to identify it pretty quickly. They could say: ‘Right, that’s it. I’ve seen enough now.’ Whatever they’d seen was enough. Up until that point, I’d felt like I could continue and – most importantly – I wasn’t letting the team down.
“Once you start to affect the team and become a hindrance, as much as you want to stay on, you have to do the right thing. At that stage, I had started to tire a bit so it was the right decision, especially with someone like Jonathan Spector able to come on and bring all his experience to the team. He wasn’t going to make the team any weaker.”
Gray, speaking on the week that it emerged he had signed a four-year contract extension with Hibs, is adamant he will never try and play through an injury if he feels he will be a hindrance to the team. “I’m a bit older and more experienced, I know when I’m right and when I’m wrong,” he said. “I’ve had plenty of blows to the head, other injuries as well, and you know which ones you can play through – and which ones mean you need to get off. I knew I was in a position where I could continue, up to a point, and get through about 80 minutes of the game.
“I was all right. I saw the doctor, I’ve seen the physios and everyone since, and I had plenty of time to recover because there was no game the next weekend. Winning the game definitely helped make me feel a bit better. Probably the best medication you can get for a sore head is three points at Tynecastle.”