Lee Johnson is excited about the prospect of integrating the fit-again Kyle Magennis to his in-form Hibernian team in the coming weeks.
The 24-year-old midfielder was introduced as an 82nd-minute substitute in last weekend’s 2-0 win at Ross County as he made his long-awaited return following a full year sidelined by chronic injury trouble.
Johnson feels Magennis is now capable of playing in excess of 60 minutes if required and is looking forward to seeing him bring his energetic approach to the Easter Road engine room.
“Kyle’s a great addition,” said the Hibs manager. “He’s very dynamic, he’s tough, he’s combative and he’s got goals in him. He can strike from distance.
“He came on last weekend and made three major contributions in 10 minutes with two great corners and a big tackle that set us off which we really should have scored from.
“I see him as someone who’s got key passes in him and key shot actions. For me, he’s a number eight who can step into the number 10 (position) but also pick up the ball and receive it a little bit deeper. Certainly his energy and front-foot thinking and sharpness to get up the pitch is the bit I like about him.”
Johnson only took over as Hibs manager in the summer but has already grasped how influential Magennis – a key man for Jack Ross before his injury last year – could be.
“We’ve seen his personality from the first day,” he said. “We were trying to drip-feed him in but straight away he was hitting big 50/50 tackles. He’s an all-or-nothing player who plays with his heart on his sleeve, which is why fans like him and team-mates respect him and his managers want him in the team.”
While Magennis and others like Rocky Bushiri, Demi Mitchell and Elias Melkersen are returning to contention, midfielder Jake Doyle-Hayes and attacker Momo Bojang are now facing several weeks on the sidelines with ankle and groin injuries respectively.
Gambian striker Bojang, who has made seven substitute appearances since arriving on loan in the summer from Rainbow in his homeland, sustained his injury while doing some extra “unsanctioned” work.
“He did a long road run and came back here with a strained groin which is not ideal,” said Johnson. “I can’t really be too critical because he’s doing it because he believes it’s the right thing to do and it was extra work. It wasn’t like he got drunk and fell off a table.
“With the personality of Momo, he’s just pure heart. Technically there’s a lot of work to do but he’s only 21. If you look back to what coaching he has and hasn’t had, there’s a lot there to do. It was an educated punt (to sign him) in that sense from us.
“He gets chances but he’s got to convert those chances. He’s fast, he’s a willing runner who runs in behind and he’s a pest to play against. We took that risk to see whether we could offer him top-class coaching and facilities to try and professionalise him in a completely different culture to what he’s used to.
“The starting point is that the boy has unbelievable desire to improve himself and this injury – which is a disappointment for him and for us – is a by-product of having the right attitude. We’ve just got to channel that correctly.”