The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Hanlon full of praise as Allan makes Hibs return

- By James Melville

HE may have only lasted half an hour of a feisty first-leg victory over Santa Coloma, but skipper Paul Hanlon reckons the significan­ce of Scott Allan’s Hibernian comeback was apparent even during the warm-up on Thursday night.

Allan was making his first competitiv­e start for the Easter Road club since August last year after a worrying spell on the sidelines getting to the bottom of a heart complaint and the subsequent gradual recovery that included a stint on loan at Inverness Caley Thistle.

The 29-year-old has confessed he initially feared the diagnosis of hypertroph­ic cardiomyop­athy, a thickening of the walls of the heart chamber, would result in him being forced to hang up his boots.

After careful medical monitoring and a full pre-season build-up, however, the fans’ favourite was right back in the middle of things for Hibs as they made their Europa Conference League bow.

Unfortunat­ely, following Joe Newell’s controvers­ial red card, the former Celtic and Dundee United midfielder’s eagerlyant­icipated return was cut frustratin­gly short as he was sacrificed to allow manager Jack Ross to make up for the loss of a man by introducin­g the more defensive Kyle Magennis.

But Hanlon believes the supporters’ reaction to Allan’s presence in the 3-0 win were proof enough the mercurial playmaker can be a key figure for Hibs in the coming campaign.

‘You could hear the buzz when his name was announced before the game,’ said the Hibs captain. ‘He is the type of player fans pay to come and watch.

‘It was frustratin­g (he was substitute­d) and I’m sure he had an idea he would be the one sacrificed after half an hour. He will be disappoint­ed by that but he will understand at the same time.

‘It is just great to have him back in the squad. I think he now really appreciate­s every minute he has on a football pitch. You could see how much he enjoyed it.’

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