PAT FENLON has told Hibs fans they will see Jorge Claros back to his best after the long-running saga over the Honduran midfield star’s immediate future ended with him signing on at Easter Road until the end of the season.
The Easter Road manager believes the 27-year-old will return to Edinburgh to prepare for Monday night’s SPL clash against St Johnstone with an extra spring in his step after his country made a superb start to the final phase of their bid to qualify for next year’s World Cup finals by coming from behind to beat the United States in their opening match.
Claros delayed his departure for that game until he’d helped guide Hibs into the last eight of the Scottish Cup before making the 10,300-mile round trip to play for Honduras. Although he only got the last six minutes of the match as a substitute, Fenlon believes Claros will feel the gruelling trip, which saw him spend some 24 hours in the air, was well worthwhile.
The Hibs boss said: “Jorge could have gone to Honduras early, but he wanted to play in the Cup game. It was his decision. He’s gone halfway round the world to play six minutes but, at the end of the day, Honduras have had a fantastic result and he has been part of it. I think any player, well I know I certainly would, would go halfway round the world to play for their country. Whether for six minutes or 90, I do not think it makes a difference, it’s that privilege of pulling on the shirt. I don’t think you can beat that in football.
“The fact he hasn’t played a lot is a plus for us but obviously the travelling is a bit of a hindrance but that’s the way it is. He has plenty of games coming up, they’ve got off to a good start in the competition and I am sure he will be coming back confident and in good form.”
Fenlon admitted that, from a selfish point of view as Hibs manager, Claros’ limited game time in midweek was a bonus while the fact the visit of the Saints has been put back by 48 hours will help the player recover, although he believes the fact his future has been settled will have an even greater impact.
He said: “That two or three week period where we were not sure and he was not sure of what was going on has to have had an effect on him. If you are a single boy living on your own you can up bags and away you go if that’s the case.
“The fact he has his wife and young child made it difficult for him, we knew that was always at the back of his mind.”
Recognising Claros’ inner turmoil, Fenlon left him out when Hibs faced Aberdeen at Pittodrie only a few days before Claros’ initial deal was due to expire, a decision the Irishman today insisted was the right one. But now he expects Claros to “kick on”.
He said: “The decision to leave him out in Aberdeen was probably a good one in hindsight. I just thought he was miles away at that stage.
“Hopefully he is comfortable now in himself that he’s going to be here fora period of time and will kick on.”