Ryan Hedges looks as good as new as he praises Aberdeen physios after they keep his slim Euro 2020 dream alive

As is customary after a player returns following a long injury, Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass referred to Ryan Hedges as being “like a new signing” on Saturday.

Aberdeen's Ryan Hedges turns in his ninth goal of an injury-disrupted season in Saturday's 2-1 win over Livingston (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

The Welsh winger took just four minutes to underline what a miss he has been since February, when he suffered a reported season-ending injury against Livingston.

Spurred on, perhaps, by the prospect of making a late bid for inclusion in the Wales Euro 2020 squad, the three-times capped Hedges confounded medical opinion to return months earlier than envisaged. It’s also timely since no-one likes to be on the sidelines while a new manager is settling in and forming judgements ahead of next season. The same applies to Wales too, who Robert Page will lead into the finals after Ryan Giggs was charged with assaulting two women.

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If he didn’t already, Glass now knows Hedges can supply creativity as well as a goal threat. These were precious qualities denied to Derek McInnes in those crucial few weeks before his exit in March. Glass is now the beneficiary instead.

"I think he wanted to come in and get working with the boys straight away,” said Hedges of the new manager. “It's always nice under a new manager to be playing games. I have two more games to show what I can do and put me in good stead for next season.

“We'll see how my body reacts to me playing again. If I'm on the bench against Hibs then I will see if I can make the same reaction and if I am a starter then perfect."

Hedges didn’t take long to start making up for lost time, sweeping home four minutes after coming on for Niall McGinn to put Aberdeen 2-0 ahead against Livingston. Callum Hendry put the Dons one up before Jay Emmanuel-Thomas made for an interesting last ten minutes.

Hedges’ strike was his first since scoring in a 2-0 win at Kilmarnock in December which actually saw the Pittodrie side usurp Hibs in third position. Now the plan is to repeat this feat by the time the league campaign concludes in two games’ time. Aberdeen can draw level on points with Hibs if they beat their rivals at home next Wednesday.

The good news is that Hedges seems as good as new after a painful sounding procedure. “My pectoral tendon came out of the bone so I had to have surgery to reattach it and get stents to hold it in place,” he explained. “The surgery went well and the rehabilitation process has been really good. I can't thank the physio team here enough for all the work they have done with me to get me back."I'm far ahead of schedule. It wasn't a nice injury and I had four weeks of being in a sling and not being able to really do much but since then, I have really kicked and I'm back playing and not sitting in the stands like I have been.

"I was supposed to be out for six months so the original diagnosis was that I would be back for the start of next season...if I was lucky. So to get back this season is real credit to the physios, mainly Adam Stokes and to my willingness to try and get back and be amongst it.”

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