Hibs defender Paul Hanlon finally returned to action in last weekend’s Edinburgh derby after missing ten games as a result of a concussion he picked up in the Europa League qualifier against HNK Rijeka last month and the Easter Road stalwart hopes he can help Jack Ross’ side continue their excellent start to the season.
Hanlon suffered a knock against the Croatians but played on before he was forced off midway through the Hibees’ next game against Ross County – only returning to the side for the short trip to Tynecastle last weekend.
The 31-year-old is likely to be involved again this weekend when Hibs host St Mirren tomorrow afternoon and Hanlon is happy to be back playing again after a frustrating spell on the sidelines saw his return delayed after a setback last month.
“It’s disappointing when you do all that work in pre-season to get up to speed and then a head knock comes along and costs you a few matches,” Hanlon said.
“There’s a lot of guidelines you need to tick off now on each step of your recovery and I also had a minor setback in the middle which put me back slightly. It was just about making sure I was 100% before I came back. I had a mixture of symptoms.
“After getting the head knock on the Thursday, I was feeling quite ill in the Ross County game so I had to come off and it led to headaches for a few days. I then started the process of building back up with low-level gym work and running and then when I started heading the ball, I was getting headaches again.
“That was in the lead-up to the Dundee game so the whole process basically had to start again. Then it led into the international break so I think that’s why it felt like such a long time. The doctor and physios are right on top of things like that now.
“They need to make sure you’re 100% before you play. A few years ago you would just go on the pitch and play but there are a lot of protocols in place now where you need to tick each stage off before you can move on. It was frustrating because it’s not nice to miss games but I was delighted the manager put me back into such a big game last weekend.
“I felt as fit as I could be in pre-season and going into the season but when anyone misses three or four weeks of training like I had to do, it does take a wee while to build back up but I’ve worked hard and I just need to get my match fitness up now.”
With Hibs sitting a point off leaders Rangers in the Premiership table, the Cabbage could retake spot tomorrow if they avoid defeat against Jim Goodwin’s side and Hanlon is confident they can pick up the three points.
Three wins and two draws from their opening five games is an excellent start ahead of a run of crucial games, including a League Cup quarter-final, with the once-capped defender encouraging his teammates to try and kick on, adding: “We’ve started off really well, like we did last season, and given ourselves a platform to try and kick on.
“We’ve now got another big game where we feel we can get three points and keep the momentum going.”
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