Hibs' Chris Cadden opens up on 'tough' last year

When others at Hibs spoke about last season’s missed opportunities in the cups, they were talking about the ties they failed to win.

Chris Cadden during Hibs media access at the Hibernian Training Centre.

For Chris Cadden, though, it was more than that. He felt the disappointment of the League Cup semi-final loss against St Johnstone - his first start for the Leith club after signing from Columbus Crew - as acutely as anyone but it was the missed opportunities to even play a part in the Scottish Cup semi and then final that really stung.

Sidelined with a back injury, the 25 year-old had to watch helplessly from the Hampden stand. But, a star performer as Hibs defeated Rangers at the national stadium on Sunday, he is hoping to make up for lost time, determined not to let a place in the team or the trophy slip past him when the club faces Celtic in the Premier Sports Cup final on December 19.

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“It was tough last year. That was on my mind going into [Sunday’s] game, just thinking about how I missed out last year. So it’s sort of a big one for me just to go through.

“It was tough to miss them last season, especially the Scottish Cup final, it was really difficult. I was gutted. The boys didn’t go and win it but it was difficult as a player not being able to play.

“To be able to do that on Sunday was brilliant.

“It ranks right up there [as one of his most enjoyable games]. I’ve been fortunate to have some really good days in my career. Obviously I got to a couple of cup finals with Motherwell but yeah, Sunday was right up there. I don’t know what it was about Sunday, it was just different. The fans, the atmosphere, was brilliant and even after it, it was great. It’s something we’re going to look back on for a while and it’s at the very top there.”

It was a day of redemption, having come so close in the knockout competitions, and against Rangers in recent times. It was also the perfect way to bounce back from the run of defeats that preceded their enforced Covid lay-off and had uncorked a trickle of negativity and criticism.

But, the players had remained focused, according to wing-back Cadden.

“We never lost faith in what we do and the gaffer always said that. Yes, we’ve been questioned, and we weren’t in the best of form, but for me, going into that game, there was no better game to go and put in that performance. That was the mindset going into it. We had a couple of weeks building up to it and the training week was brilliant.

“For me, it was the perfect game at the perfect time for us and fortunately we were able to get the win as well, which was brilliant.”

But a backlog of fixtures, which will now see them tackle an unrelenting run of eight games in 26 days in the period leading up to the final, allowed little scope for celebrations at the weekend, with Cadden quickly catching up with his family post-match before heading home.

The adrenaline surging through his body meant that a simple cuppa and bed was impossible, though.

“What did I do? I watched the game back….There was a re-run of it on. And, I got into the NFL when I was in America so I watched a bit of that because I was up late. I couldn’t really sleep.

“But, that’s the nature of it. The games are coming thick and fast so it’s sort of a case of bring it on. That’s what it is. There’s a lot of games in a short space of time but it’s a massive game against Ross County because we’ve not been in the best form in the league so we really need to get kickstarted there.

“When we went three up on Sunday I wasn’t too surprised because of the quality we have got and the quality Martin Boyle has up front. I was thinking: this is the kind of performance we can put in.’

‘But it all goes for nothing if we don’t put a performance in on Wednesday. It’s a massive game for us.”

Having broken back into the line-up mid-September, he has now made eight appearances and Sunday’s showing proved he is getting back to optimum form, while other injured players are back in the fold, bolstering options and belief.

After their cup performance, there is no doubt that Hibs will go into that head-to-head, postponed from the end of October due to the covid outbreak, in a more confident mood than would have been the case on the original date.

“Yeah, it wasn’t what we wanted at the time but we have to turn it into a positive. A wee break might have done us good, and it gave us a bit of time on the training pitch which is good because we won’t be training a lot over the next month or so.

‘Sunday was a big game for us to step up and get the confidence and belief back. But Wednesday is just as big for us. It’s a massive game for us to kick on in the league.

“If you look at the fixtures there are no easy games. The standard is brilliant and the teams are good. So every game you have to be on top form. Ross County are bottom of the table and they are fighting. They will be desperate for a result as well. So it’s up to us to match that fight and take the game to them.”