Scott Allan says he pleaded with Dundee manager Neil McCann to allow him to return to Hibernian, claiming he wants to recapture the joy he felt during his previous stint at Easter Road.
One third of a three-way deal that saw Scott Bain head to Allan’s parent club Celtic and Simon Murray depart for Dens Park, the midfielder returns to the Leith on loan for the first time since leaving under a cloud in August 2015.
But despite handing in a transfer request at that time, he says he looks back on his season with Hibernian with real fondness.
“The last time I was here was the most enjoyment I’ve had in football, so hopefully I can recreate that. I just linked with every player and the fit just feels right. I played with a freedom with those around me here, guys like Dylan McGeouch, who is still here, and that enabled me to do my creative stuff going forward. That’s been added to with guys like John McGinn so I think it will be a good mix.”
There are fans who remain annoyed by his public manoeuvring as he sought to force through a move to Rangers before eventually being sold to Celtic. The player is aware that they will need to be won over but, if all goes to plan, he has already expressed a desire to extend his stay with Hibs beyond the summer, saying he is keen to find some stability.
A player who has a raft of loan deals on his cv, and has been left to rue his departure from Hibs a year before the team made history by winning the Scottish Cup, he is now a dad and, aged 26, feels the need to settle down.
“The ways things have gone for me since I was 18 – the way I left Dundee United and the hype around that – have meant I’ve learned to live with frustration. I just want more good times in my career. As a person, I’ve just gained through experience – the amount of things I’m been through and the transfers I’ve been involved in. I’m a dad now, so I’ve got a lot of responsibility, and that is my main concern.
“I just want to put some roots down, like John and Dylan. They’ve both done it and they’re really settled and it’s something my career really needs just now. But I’ll wait to see if it works well for me and the club.”
That need for stability is something identified by his new manager Neil Lennon, who says it is now up to him to get the best out of Allan.
“You see him in that spell he had here there was a flow, he was really confident and full of real intent in his game and we want to bring that back out of him,” said Lennon.
“His career has been a bit nomadic, he has had a lot of clubs already. He needs to really settle down, find somewhere he is content and start showing the country the player he can be. He’s got the game. You don’t go to Celtic from another club in Scotland and not have ability, especially at this level. So it’s up to me to tap into that and try and get the best out of him now for however long that may be.
“He’s the type of player we don’t really have. He can play wide, he can play off the striker, he can play in a midfield three. Any of those variables, really. What you want is him to find good positions higher up the pitch where he can be creative and take people on. He can certainly see a pass and the other thing he’ll bring which we haven’t got is set piece delivery. We’ve lacked that a little this season and technically he’s proficient at that, so that’s another string to his bow.”
There is a spotlight on Allan, as people watch to see if he can knuckle down and deliver on a regular basis and that scrutiny will rarely be more intense that at Ibrox today when Hibs face Rangers.
“I just want to go out and enjoy playing football and entertaining fans,” Allan said. “I just want to be happy playing good football. We’re going there wanting three points. It’s going to be a really competitive game but our boys are coming off the back of a win the other night so I’m sure it will be a really good game.”
Lennon says Allan is in contention but the Hibs boss has selection difficulties to deal with elsewhere in the side, with Darren McGregor likely to miss out, along with Vykintas Slivka and he also has a worry over Paul Hanlon.