Speaking out, manager Lee Johnson revealed he was forced to act after the 25-year-old, who signed from Swindon Town on transfer deadline day and quickly became a cult hero due to tales of his maverick tendencies on and off the park, responded to a comment he was tagged in on his former club’s Instagram account.
Having endured a difficult few months with injuries, the former Aston Villa youngster has taken time to settle and, with just one start and five appearances from the bench, he has had to watch as his team-mates progressed without him, moving into third place in the Premiership standings.
Coming off a hugely-rewarding season at the County Ground, where he rattled in 26 goals, he has failed to find the net for his new side, leading Swindon Town fans to tag him in comments on the League Two club’s official social media. But his response has landed him in hot water.
The offending post read: “Time to come back @HarryMcKirdy” and he replied; “Not wrong.”
That prompted fury from Hibs supporters who felt that rather than buckling down and vindicating the club’s faith in him, he was instead looking to escape back south, and, according to Johnson, that forced the club to intervene.
“It registered more with me once I heard the fans were angry about it. I personally perceived it as a player who has done well at a previous club and was showing his support and fishing for compliments and a bit of love - not necessarily detrimental to where he is - but we had to have the conversation because we would look to move people on if they're not happy.
“That certainly wasn't the case when I had the conversation with him, though; I think he's very grateful for the reception he's had from the fans and people around the city and, if anything, he's frustrated with himself and his body that he hasn't been able to maximise what he sees as the true version of himself for the supporters and the club. But he's got to be aware that everything is picked up and can be perceived in different ways.”
Accepting the player’s unpredictability, Johnson said that the biggest concern he had after the clear the air talks was that McKirdy’s need for online adulation was so acute that it skewed his judgement and threatened his relationship with his current club and the Hibs fans.
“Look, I thought he was really good at Dundee United when he came on at half-time, he’s a schemer, a bit scatty who takes potshots and does things like that. He’s a bit of a chameleon, you never know who is going to turn up on a day but that’s his personality and his game.
“But, I worry about people looking for that external validation and that is the only question mark I have now. But he’s a good lad, he doesn’t have malice in his body - he just wants to be loved by as many people as possible.”
McKirdy has deleted the offending message.