Drey Wright opens up on Hibs omissions, coming in from cold, Shaun Maloney and what future holds

Drey Wright’s best Christmas present came a day late, but it was worth the wait.

Hibs' Drey Wright in action against Dundee United.

Having not started a competitive football match since May 15 in a goalless end-of-season draw against Celtic, Wright was given the nod by new manager Shaun Maloney against Dundee United on Boxing Day and performed well in the 3-1 cinch Premiership victory away at Dundee United.

The past year has been tough for the 26-year-old, who has not been able to hold down a first-team place since moving to Easter Road on a two-year deal in the summer of 2020 from St Johnstone. He was very close to leaving the club in August, being part of a swap deal that would have resulted in him and Scott Allan moving to St Mirren and Jamie McGrath going in the opposite direction. As it was, that transfer fell through and while regularly named on the subs bench since, his game-time has been very limited.

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Previous manager Jack Ross did not see Wright fitting into his plans and was prepared to let the Englishman go, but every player at Hibs now has a clean slate and Wright showed enough in training to earn a start at Tannadice.

Wright and Scott Allan were set to leave Hibs for St Mirren.

Deployed in a No 10 role behind Martin Boyle and Kevin Nisbet in a 3-4-1-2 formation, Wright was given licence to buzz in between midfield and attack. He saw plenty of the ball and was involved in Hibs’ opener, his cross from the left leading to the goal.

"It was good to be out there especially with the style of play we are producing at the moment,” said Wright. “It was a joy to play in and be a part of.

"The manager just told me to go and enjoy it and play with no pressure. It has been a long time – eight months or so since I last started. He just told me to go and enjoy it and implement the work we've been doing out there on the training pitch into the game. I think the control we had in the game and the amount of chances we had showed we did that. It was really enjoyable."

Wright has not had much to smile about recently on the pitch, so it was pleasing to see the personable former Ipswich man in good spirits. He admits that he was close to the exit door at Easter Road.

New Hibs manager Shaun Maloney is giving everyone a fresh start.

"I had talks with Jack Ross a number of times,” said Wright. “I don't want to go into too much detail, but I wish him all the best in the future and it's just one of those things. It just didn't work out for us.

"Conversations were had. Under the previous manager, he assured me I was part of his plans which is what I was told. Again it was just a case of keeping my head down and trying to get an opportunity which never came about this season.

"It goes without saying I found myself out of the picture a little bit. These things happen in football. It's about looking forward and enjoying working with the new manager."

How difficult was the situation for Wright, who arrived from Saints after such a good spell in Perth? "I am very busy away from the club and I have three young kids which is the go-to for me,” he explained. "It's been tough and you have to just keep on plugging away. I obviously trained as hard as I could every day. I think if you asked the staff, it was one of the things they appreciated because I never gave in. It was just one of those things.”

Wright had fallen out of favour under Jack Ross.

Maloney clearly likes dynamic players who are comfortable on the ball. Primarily a right-winger, Wright can also play centrally. He needs to nail down a position at Hibs and admits that early impressions of Maloney are good.

"I am finding it really interesting because of the detail and planning that goes into it and how we are going to break teams down and what we are going to do in the game to implement that,” Wright said. “It's been really enjoyable and interesting because it's how I see the game as well. Hopefully, it suits and it's the start of something quite good.

"I spoke to friends and family and never in my career have I come across a manager who goes into as much depth and that much planning into what we are going to do.

"He explains it really well and makes it as simple as it can be. It opens your eyes into the process that we are going to attack teams with. He breaks it down and makes it a lot more simple for us.

"His coaching credentials speak for themselves. He had a brilliant job being Belgium's assistant for the amount of time he did.

"I've not asked him exactly what he did, but I would imagine it was good because he was working with players at the top level who took to him really well."

There is an argument that the break is coming for Hibs, and Wright, at the wrong time. "Hopefully not,” he smiled. “For a while now I have been looking towards January as something that might happen for me. Now I have got into the team and we've got another win, so the games being called off isn't ideal.

"I'll try and see family and make the most of it. We'll have a lot more time on the training ground before the next game which will only benefit us.

"Conversations have been had [about leaving] about it but hopefully, it will change now."

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