Hibs’ Thomas Agyepong desperate to catch Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane

Thomas Agyepong had arrived at Hibernian hoping to use his time in the Scottish top flight to close the gap on his Manchester City competition.

Fit again Hibs on-loan winger Thomas Agyepong has been frustrated by the injuries which have held him back this season. Picture: SNS.
Fit again Hibs on-loan winger Thomas Agyepong has been frustrated by the injuries which have held him back this season. Picture: SNS.

But rather than reel in his main rivals, injuries have made it difficult for the Ghanaian to get match time for the Easter Road club.

With only one start and seven substitute appearances since heading north in August, he has spent large spells on the sidelines, with a knee injury and then a thigh problem curtailing his ambitions and testing his mental fortitude.

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“When I look back, it is frustrating because the only way you can get in [the City team] is by playing games,” said the 22-year-old winger. “When you are in the physio room, it is no good for City, it is no good for Hibs, no good for me. I am young and when you are young the only thing you need to do is play games. That’s the only way you can learn, the only way you can improve. When you are not playing, it feels like a step back but at the end of the day I am fit. Once you are fit, there are opportunities. I am looking forward to the rest of the games.

“It’s hard because I see the competition I am facing like [Raheem] Sterling and [Leroy] Sane. I like to watch them because I am a winner like them. I watch them and see what they’re doing and what I need to do in my game. So if the first-team manager or scout is watching my game they can say, OK, it is similar to what we are doing in the first team.

“I want to learn and get better and do some of the stuff they are doing. It is talented stuff because these guys are world-class players but I believe in myself. You need to be given the opportunity to prove what you can do. I always believe in myself to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully one day I can go to pre-season, do well and get in there.”

But Agyepong does not feel like the forgotten man, thanks to the effort his parent club puts in behind the scenes with all their loaned players and the advice of former England star Joleon Lescott, who now works as a loanee player liaison for the Premier League challengers and has helped keep Agyepong’s spirits high.

“Joleon [pictured] is my mentor. He comes up and we go out in the city and sometimes he comes to the club and we sit down with the manager and have a chat. He comes to games and gives me advice on how to deal with stuff on and off the pitch. He’s been through everything before so it’s good to have someone like that.

“Every now and then City send a physio to come and see me and there’s also a psychologist who comes here or sometimes chats over the phone.”

But there have been bleak spells and although he is back in training and has made fleeting cameos from the bench in the past two games, Agyepong is looking at making a bigger contribution in the final three fixtures, starting with the trip to Ibrox tomorrow and he believes that, while match time has been limited, he has been as productive as possible during his enforced lay-offs, studying the theory to make him a better player.

“I’ve been working with Joleon for two years now and it’s good to have someone who has played at the highest level, especially for City because that’s my goal ultimately to play for them. For him to share his thoughts, opinions about the game and stories about some of the setbacks in his career and how he got over it, it’s a massive help for me.

“Sometimes he just tells me to do the right things off the field because the little details in terms of your sleep, diet, hydration all comes together to make a big difference.

“It would be easy for players who go out on loan to think they’re being forgotten about but when you get that level of support from City it reassures that they do care about what you’re doing. After every game, people send the video to City and they analyse it and tell me stuff that I need to improve and what I need to do. Joleon also talks to me about that after every game. He tells me to remember why I’m there, to believe in myself and do what I’m good at.”