HIBS: Van Zanten welcomes McCann duel

HIBS star David van Zanten today insisted he's looking forward to a battle royal with Kevin McCann to play right-back, claiming the true winner will be the team itself.

By his own admission Van Zanten didn't enjoy the best of seasons following his move from SPL rivals St Mirren but now he is relishing the challenge posed by McCann following the youngster's recovery from a horrific knee injury.

McCann was sidelined throughout last season leaving Van Zanten as the only recognised right-back at the club, forcing former boss Mixu Paatelainen to play either Sol Bamba or Darren McCormack out of position when he was unavailable.

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Now, though, McCann is ready to reclaim his place in the side and Van Zanten is only too well aware of the fight he'll have to retain the right-back slot.

He said: "I was disappointed with the way I played last season but now I'm looking to move on and put that right.

"Kevin has done really well in pre-season so there should be a fair old fight between the pair of us as we are both desperate to play."

While Van Zanten was unwilling to speculate on whether the lack of competition was perhaps partly behind his own dip in form, the Dublin-born star said: "I think every player needs that bit of pressure on him, it makes you perform better.

"It's good for the team if you can get competition for every position on the field."

McCann impressed as he made the breakthrough under ex-Hibs manager John Collins only to be struck by tendinosis in his right knee, a condition which defied two painful courses of injection and resulted in an operation.

Van Zanten, however, has seen at first hand the 21-year-old's determined battle to overcome his problems having shared the journey from Glasgow to Hibs East Mains Training Centre on many occasions.

He said: "You need a tough mentality to get through something like that, particularly when you are such a young player. I travelled through with Kevin every morning so I knew what he was going through. It must have been hell for him knowing that the others in the car would be going training while he'd be heading for another session with the physio.

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"But everyone is delighted that he's got back fit and done so well in pre-season. Now we'll have our own wee battle and so far the gaffer has kept us guessing as we've shared the time on the park."

HIBS have announced that tickets for their Co-operative Insurance Cup second round tie against Brechin City at Easter Road on Wednesday, 26 August, will be priced 15 (adults) and 5 (concessions). Season ticket holders have until Wednesday to buy their seats and those who have opted for the Cup Top Up scheme should use voucher 1.