BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HIBS new-boy Andrew Shinnie is determined to emulate former Birmingham City teammate Scott Allan by using a move to Easter Road to rejuvenate his career.
The Scotland internationalist joined the Hibees on a one-year loan deal on Wednesday evening after being informed he would be a bit-part player at St Andrews this term by boss Gary Rowett.
Rather than see his progress stall, Shinnie decided to seek a move back north of the border, where he excelled with Inverness Caledonian Thistle following stints with Dundee and Rangers.
And he views Allan, a Blues colleague during 2013/14 season, as the perfect template, having watched the mercurial playmaker use a sensational campaign with Hibs as a stepping stone to Celtic and, most recently, Rotherham United.
“I played with Scott and he was really similar to me – he came on loan to Birmingham and didn’t get much of a chance to show what he could do,” explained Shinnie.
“Once the manager doesn’t fancy you, then you’re struggling.
“He didn’t play much. Hibs were a good option, he did really well and moved on to Celtic and back to the Championship.
“It worked out well for him and hopefully it can work out well for me.
“This would have been my fourth year [at Birmingham] and it was a case of ‘would I play or not?’ I thought: ‘Scotland is where I really enjoyed my football and most successful, so I’ll see what my options are’ and Hibs stood out.
“It has been a frustrating couple of seasons. English clubs have more money and competition is tougher. Playing well up here, you’re almost guaranteed to be a starter but down there, unless you’re 100 per cent at it, there’s not always a place in the team.
“Managers can drop you and then that’s you out. A lot of players down there can be harshly treated but that’s just the way it is.”
Shinnie’s spell south of the border should certainly not be considered a disaster, with the 2014/15 campaign, in particular, a successful one as he emerged as a pivotal player with 28 appearances in the challenging proving ground of the English second tier.
He struggles to explain how he fell so far out of favour under the same manager in the subsequent season, sighing “one minute you are flavour of the month, then somebody else is ahead of you. It is ruthless, football.”
However, Shinnie has no intention of feeling sorry for himself and, instead, is enthused by the prospect of being involved in a title chase for the first time in his career.
“At Inverness, we never once thought ‘we could push Celtic here’,” he recalled. “Little Inverness, we gave it a good bash – we were second for a good long while – but I’m now at a club expected to win the league and I’ve not been part of that. I can’t wait.
“Birmingham are a massive club in the Championship and, although they could have got a playoff position last season, mid-table has been considered a good end to the season.
“You don’t want to go into a campaign thinking ‘we want to get mid-table’, and I’m at a team now where the fans expect the title. You need to thrive in that environment.”
Having featured extensively in Birmingham’s pre-season campaign, Shinnie will go straight into the Hibs side to face St Mirren tomorrow.