Hibs head coach Jack Ross has revealed he had concerns about bringing Scott Allan back into the team after the player was diagnosed with a heart condition.
Allan missed five months of football earlier this season, and explained on Friday that his absence had been down to a diagnosis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is a condition where the walls of the heart chamber have thickened.
After taking advice to change his diet and hydration, the 29-year-old, who is also diabetic, has been given the all-clear to play and returned to action in the Betfred Cup semi-final last month,
Ross revealed he was very cautious about taking that step and that Allan’s return only came after a lot of discussion and advice.
“When Scott began the process of trying to get back fit, there was a process we had to build up at the club,” he said.
“I had to make sure what I was doing on the training pitch with Scott and how I was using him was satisfying all the criteria.
“When we got to the later stages I had a good conversation with Scott about the fact I was still slightly apprehensive purely because I didn’t want to put him in any danger and I suppose, selfishly to a degree, then (be) deemed responsible for that.
“I had to have that conversation with Scott and once we felt we were meeting all the medical criteria, that final part was about making sure he was entirely comfortable.
“He said he was, which meant we both had to accept he was ready to go again.
“The frustration is we’ve not been able to get him more game time because of Covid, which has held back his progress.
“Ideally he’d have made his return in better circumstances but for him to be back on the pitch at Hampden was great.
“He’ll remain involved and I envision him playing a part in our remaining fixtures.
“It’s hard to predict how much but Scott and I’ve been quite candid in saying anything we get from him this season is a bonus given where he was not so long ago.”
Allan said part of his drive to return to action was that he wanted his son to see him play and Ross admitted that the situation had meant for some emotional conversations.
He said: “Scott has children and that gives you a different perspective on life. I don’t think he needed me to highlight that for him.
“I don’t think Scott would ever have come back to playing if he felt he was putting himself in danger.
“But I think it would be remiss of me not to bring that up as this is about being a human being – not a footballer.
“We had some fairly emotional conversations as it’s not a nice one to have for a 29-year-old man.
“Thankfully we’re in a position now where Scott has been back part of the squad for five or six weeks. That’s great for him first and foremost.
“It’s been a really challenging period for him.
“Looking back to when I first spoke to him after he was given his initial diagnosis down in London, there was an emotional aspect for both of us.
“I understood the impact it was having on him as a person but at no point did it ever drift towards how it impacted us on the playing side.
“I never at any point allowed it to drift towards this being a bad thing for me not having this talented player at my disposal.
“It flips a little bit when he came back to health because it is a major plus to have him in the squad again.
“But certainly at the time it was much more about looking after him as a person.”