Fit-again Hibs defender Darren McGregor knows he faces a tough fight to win back his place in the Easter Road team as his four-month long injury nightmare comes to an end.
The 34-year-old began the season as a first pick for the capital club, but was sidelined by an abdominal injury in mid-August and now finds himself behind Ryan Porteous, Paul Hanlon and Adam Jackson in the pecking order.
Describing his rehabilitation as “a hard old shift”, McGregor conceded he will have to show more patience as he awaits the nod from manager Jack Ross.
“I was looking forward to the season as we did well to get into the top six at the end of last season,” he said. “I was enjoying the consistency of playing.
“The new season comes around and you have all these aspirations about doing well and before you know it you are a couple of games out and before you know it now it’s only a few days off January.
“That’s the most frustrating thing. You can’t change that. That’s what I’ve learned to do. I feel like I’m back to what I was before, it’s just about working hard in training and trying to get the gaffer to notice me.
“If I get another opportunity, it’s about taking it.” In his absence, Scotland Under-21 cap Porteous, pictured, and Paul Hanlon have been the pairing in central defence with Adam Jackson, signed by former boss Paul Heckingbottom in the summer, as back-up.
McGregor, who was an unused substitute against Celtic last weekend and will expect to be on the bench again for tonight’s clash with Rangers at Easter Road, insisted: “I can’t moan about a lack of opportunity or think I’ve a divine right to get into the team.
“The boys are doing well. I’d definitely say that Paul and Ryan are ahead of me as they’ve been playing each week. Jacko as well has been on the bench and is another great lad who trains well and always does extra in the gym. Just because he’s not playing, he’s not slacking off.
“He’s a really good professional. So, I’ve got three good guys in front of me. It’s difficult. It’s just about training as well as I can and if there is an opportunity I need to take it.
“The gaffer knows how much the club means to me and how much I want to play – just like everyone else to be honest. The older you get, it’s imperative that you keep yourself fit.”