ONE of the questions posed in the aftermath of Hibernian’s Scottish Cup final defeat by Celtic on Sunday was where next for Kevin Thomson?
The midfielder signed a short-term contract in March, found his feet again at the Easter Road club, and forced his way into Pat Fenlon’s cup final starting XI.
Now both parties must decide what to do. If Fenlon wishes to include Thomson in his plans for next season, then the player sounds willing enough to hear what he has to offer. European qualification also makes remaining at Hibs sound more appealing for Thomson, who at 28 is now at a crucial stage of his career.
However, it is also clear that he craves another opportunity to make it in England, where he endured a difficult, injury-interrupted spell at Middlesbrough
“I am going to go home and enjoy some family time and then we will see what happens,” said Thomson. “I don’t know what will happen. I will wait and see if the phone goes over the next couple of weeks. I look forward to going and doing pre-season, wherever I will be at.”
“The manager [Fenlon] has been great with me, and the fans have been great with me,” he added. “I feel I have been playing at a good level. If it is going to be with Hibs in the summer then so be it. I have said in interviews before that if I get the opportunity to go back to England then that would be something I would like to do.”
Thomson, who cheered on Hibs from the stands at last year’s final, at least lasted longer this time. His father nudged him and said, ‘let’s go’ after just 50 or so minutes of the 5-1 defeat by Hearts. By the time the game finished, they were well on the way home to Peebles.
On Sunday, Thomson lasted 75 minutes, before being replaced by Lewis Stevenson. Sadly, he had been unable to stamp any authority on the game. The sight of Scott Brown taking control of the midfield from soon after the first whistle cannot have helped ease Thomson’s frustration. There were even a couple of duels between the players where Brown came off best.
Thomson didn’t manage to speak to his old friend at the end, when making a special effort to seek out the Celtic players to congratulate them. However, he acknowledged Brown was among the finest performers on the day. “I never actually saw him when I went to say well done to their boys,” said Thomson. “I am a firm believer that you need to win and lose with a bit of pride. Fair play to Scott, he was hobbling around but he is a top player and was a thorn in our side the whole game.”
Thomson knows where the key to Celtic’s victory lay on Sunday. “They have more quality in the front area than us,” he said. “Celtic’s front three, when Kris Commons steps inside and with Anthony Stokes dropping into wee holes, makes it difficult for defences.” And then there is Gary Hooper, who scored the first two goals, making it an all but impossible task for Hibs to get back into the game.
“They were sloppy goals on our part,” he said. “I don’t think the guys will be overly-happy with them. I think Celtic were the better team on the day.”