Ryan McGivern takes cue from City superstars

WHEN you are at a club the size of Manchester City it must be a wrench to leave, but Ryan McGivern is sure he has done the right thing in coming to Hibernian on loan.

WHEN you are at a club the size of Manchester City it must be a wrench to leave, but Ryan McGivern is sure he has done the right thing in coming to Hibernian on loan.

The 22-year-old, who is at Easter Road initially until January, needs to play regularly, having to date made only one appearance, as a substitute, with the current English champions.

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But, while McGivern’s history of going out on loan to other English clubs might imply he has never settled, his record at international level tells a different tale.

With 18 Northern Ireland caps to his name, the 6ft 2in left-back has acquired a reputation as a solid, dependable defender.

His physical presence should certainly come in useful for Hibs manager Pat Fenlon, who found the position something of a problem last season. With Tim Clancy on the other flank and Paul Hanlon and James McPake in the middle, Fenlon now has a back four with an altogether tougher look to it, and McGivern is looking forward to playing his part in it, starting this afternoon with a home debut in the SPL against Kilmarnock.

“When I knew the chance to come to Hibs was on the cards I jumped at it,” he said. “The SPL is something I’ve not experienced before, but I’m looking forward to it.

“I’ve been in a couple of squads with James. We had a friendly international last month and I knew there was a bit of interest, so I asked him about Hibs. He told me it’s a good club and I’d enjoy it.

“I’m at an age now where I need to get out and play. I can’t be sitting around not playing football. I’m in my last year [at Manchester City] and I’m on loan here until January, so I’ll see what happens.”

Having been a City player since 2008, McGivern has seen the club transformed since being taken over by the Abu Dhabi United Group. His experience of first-team football may have been extremely limited, but he feels he has benefitted, nonetheless, from training alongside players such as Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli. “From when I first signed it wasn’t like what it’s like now,” he explained. “Since then they’ve been taken over and the whole club’s been transformed ten times. Everything has got so much bigger and you see the standard on the park.

“It’s harder for young players to come through, but it has been good to have the opportunity to train with these players and see how they handle themselves. It’s good for a young lad, picking up things in training from those kinds of players, world-class superstars.

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“If you’re training with them and pick up one little thing that’s enough to build on. They might be superstars, but they’re all good lads.

“Mario is crazy, but he’s a nice guy. Some people only see the bad in him, they don’t see the good and people forget he’s only 21. He’s younger than me. He’s a fantastic player.”

Family illness meant that McGivern had to go back home to Newry while City were clinching the title on the final day of last season, but he was able to watch the climax to the championship race in an unlikely setting.

“I was actually watching it in a Manchester United supporters club and had to leave at half-time,” he explained. “When I came back at full-time, my mates were dancing about on the bar when the full-time whistle went at the Stadium of Light [where United had beaten Sunderland while City were still not ahead against Queen’s Park Rangers].

“Then they flicked the channels over and saw Sergio Aguero running away celebrating. So it was nice to go back in and have some banter with them.”

McGivern is aware that the coming months could be decisive for his career, and he is confident that a run of games can get him back on track – beginning today, when he comes up against Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels, for whom he played at international youth level.

“Coming up here is a chance to get games under my belt,” said McGivern. “I’d a full season last year, playing regularly with Crystal Palace for a month and then Bristol City. It’s something I really enjoyed and it helped me internationally as well. Coming back [to City] for pre-season and being a little bit frozen out stalled me a little.

“But I’m at Hibs now and hopefully I can play games and kick on to where I finished last season. I was a bit anxious waiting to get here, but it’s a great bunch of lads and I’m looking forward to getting on with it.

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“Kenny was my manager with the Northern Ireland under-17 side. I enjoyed working with him back then and he likes to get his teams to get the ball down and play football. He’s done really well with Kilmarnock.

“It was a long time since I played under Kenny, but even then he always wanted you to play football, and not just go for long ball. He’s always been a good coach and has done really well with Kilmarnock.”

McGivern is convinced, however, that he and Hibs will do better than the Rugby Park side during the months ahead. Indeed, while being aware that maintaining a challenge to Celtic is likely to prove impossible over the course of the season, he thinks the good start made by Hibs in the league suggests that they have what it takes to end up best of the rest – especially given the obvious improvement in the side since last season.