At 35, the midfielder didn’t come to Tynecastle in September seeking reinvention. But that is what he has been able to embrace under Robbie Neilson. In his long and varied career, which began with Livingston and is recalled for successful stints with Leeds United, Norwich City, Hull City and West Ham, the former Scotland international morphed from a winger to a player who tended to be deployed as a No 10 or a No 8. Until he pitched up on Gorgie, following a summer as a free agent after leaving Luton Town, Snodgrass had never played as a deep-lying midfielder.
Yet, that was the role he was tasked with in the 1-0 loss at Ibrox this week, and not for the first time across a five-week spell in which he has been building his fitness with five full 90 minutes. Two of these in the past week alone with Wednesday’s outing against Rangers following on from his important contribution in Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Motherwell by a ten-man Hearts. Getting back in groove has him wishing there wasn’t a five-week top flight closedown for the World Cup following this weekend, which will see Neilson’s side host Livingston.
“Fitness wise, having two games in three days was tough,” Snodgrass said. “I’ve not had a pre-season in three years so it’s been difficult. I’ve had problems with a disc in my back but I feel as though I’m through that now. I hope the minutes on the pitch will help me more. I said a few weeks ago that if you gave me five or six games I’d hope to be where I want to be in terms of fitness. So that’s two 90 minutes within 72 hours and I’ve put in good numbers, running wise and fitness wise. I’m feeling good.
“It’s a different position I’m playing in than I’ve been used to. I’m playing as a sitter and have been trying to keep the ball and get the lads ticking and moving. That’s a different role than I’ve been used to throughout my career. But I love it, I love football and I’ll play anywhere. I’ll take the ball and try and play, and enjoy it as much as I can.”