JORDON Forster insists the Hibs squad is a more united one this season under Neil Lennon after sensing a ‘them’ and ‘us’ split 12 months ago.
Forster has confessed to feeling like an outsider at his own club during the reign of Lennon’s predecessor, Alan Stubbs, last term, when he made just one appearance – the 6-2 hammering from Rangers in the Challenge Cup.
Eventually, the frustrated 22-year-old opted to join Plymouth Argyle on loan in January and cursed his luck when his Hibs team-mates went on to become ‘living legends’ with May’s historic Scottish Cup triumph.
— Capital City Press (@CCP_sport) September 13, 2016
However, after Stubbs was replaced by Lennon in the summer, the towering defender decided to pen a new deal in a fresh bid to build a future for himself at Easter Road.
Though he has enjoyed just four late substitute’s outings and one start, he insists the necessary patience comes easier this season, thanks to the atmosphere being fostered by Lennon.
He said: “I would say when I was here last season I felt on the outside looking in.
“Not just me but for the other boys who weren’t playing, it was very much ‘we’re a team’.
“I think that’s one of the biggest things that’s disappeared from a year ago. It did feel like when you weren’t playing you weren’t part of the team.
“It wasn’t a divide, don’t get me wrong, but you were outside looking in.
“But this season you’re a lot closer.
“I think anyone could step out of the team and anyone could go in and I don’t think there would be a massive difference. The squad’s really good and there’s a lot of depth to it.
“As a player, you want to be part of a winning team and the next step is to be playing in a winning team.
“For me, as much as it’s frustrating and I go home in bad moods and whatnot, I’m part of the club and I’m working hard every day to improve.
“Hopefully my time will come and if it does I know I’ve been doing everything to make sure I’m ready for it.”
Forster still smiles ruefully when May’s Scottish Cup victory against Rangers is mentioned, with the centre-half missing out as he instead prepared for Plymouth’s unsuccessful play-off final against Wimbledon.
But he is hopeful of making up for missing out at Hampden by being part of a Hibs team that clinches the Championship title this term.
He added: “It’s hard to take because all the boys are living legends in Edinburgh, but I’m happy to be here just now, working hard and making sure I’m in the manager’s thought process.
“Would a title-winning medal heal those wounds? Of course it would. Any medal would heal those wounds.”
Forster was speaking as Hibs helped to raise awareness of a national campaign to increase the number of people in Scotland on the NHS Organ Donor Register.
The ‘We Need Everybody’ push aims to highlight that anyone can be an organ donor, regardless of age, shape, size or ethnicity.
And, shaking off preconceived stereotypes of footballers, Forster has revealed the issue has been discussed in-depth in the Hibs dressing room.
He explained: “I hadn’t really thought about it too much until the last few months and then David Gray mentioned it in the dressing room a few weeks ago. When you think about it, I don’t understand why someone wouldn’t do it.
“We were talking about it in the changing room and saying that if it was someone in your family or a good friend you would be hoping for someone to step in or you would step up yourself to try to help out.
“So, I don’t see why I shouldn’t be signing up to donate my organs if that can help someone else.
“I think it’s part of being a role model as a human being, to be honest with you. Obviously footballers are in the limelight a wee bit more and that is good for kids and adults to see us doing stuff like this.
“But, as a human being, I think if you stopped and thought about it, I doubt there would be any reason not to sign up and try to help.”
• Visit www.weneedeverybody.org to join the NHS Organ Donor Register.