Hibs winger Danny Swanson used to cheer on Steven Whittaker and Anthony Stokes from sidelines – now he’d loved to link up on the pitch

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New Hibs midfielder Danny Swanson insists he would be delighted if head coach Neil Lennon recruits Steven Whittaker and Anthony Stokes, having been a fan of both players during their previous stints at Easter Road.

Swanson, a boyhood Hibs supporter, vividly remembers Scotland right-back Whittaker being part of the golden generation at Hibs during Tony Mowbray’s era.

The former St Johnstone player was also at Hampden to watch Blackburn Rovers marksman Stokes write himself into club folklore with a double in last May’s historic Scottish Cup triumph over Rangers.

(Pic: Twitter @marathonbet)

Both Whittaker, who is a free agent following his release at Norwich City, and Stokes were interested spectators for Lewis Stevenson’s testimonial against Sunderland on Sunday, with Lennon keen to enlist the players for the Leith side’s Premiership return.

Swanson is keeping his fingers crossed that Lennon manages to get both deals over the line.

He said: “I’m a massive Whitaker fan, he used to be one of the players I came to watch, it was that era.

“He was a massive player for Hibs back then and will still do well now, I’m sure.

“I think Steven would bring a lot of things, he’s got ability and he’s a big boy. He would bring physicality as well – he’s a top player.

“Him and Stokes, the cup final made him a Hibs legend and they would both be great signings if we got the two of them.”

Testimonial

While all the attention was on long-serving defender Stevenson in Sunday’s 2-2 draw, it was also a memorable day for Swanson as he finally got to walk out the tunnel wearing his team’s colours for the first time.

However, the 30-year-old, who joined from St Johnstone during the close-season, admits he would rather forget about his own performance.

He said: “I’ve played better to be fair, it’s probably the worst performance I have ever had. I’ll put it down to rustiness.

“I enjoyed it, especially at the end it was brilliant for Lewy. 

“I was looking forward to it, I really was. I just wish I had played a bit better but I am sure that will come with games and fitness. I’m a bit slow a the minute but that will come. I enjoyed walking out and playing.

I think it will take time to get used to the way we play, it’s very different to St Johnstone. Working with the boys and a bit more training should help me.

I just feel sometimes I’m thinking a bit too much about it at the moment. 

“At Saints I played with Steven MacLean every game and he helped me so I just need to adapt and hopefully when the games start, it is all clicking.”

£20 per week

Swanson will ask Lennon if he can be part of tonight’s squad for the pre-season clash at Berwick Rangers as he returns to the club where he began his professional career in 2005.

The attacking midfielder was so desperate for a chance in the senior game that even the offer of £20 a week at the Wee Gers did not put him off.

He said: “The gaffer has said he isn’t sure who he is going to play but I’ll ask if I can go down because I need the games, time on the pitch. 

“John Coughlin was the manager down there when I signed.

“My dad, John, asked him for a trial went. I went down and did all right and he said all he could offer me was £20 a week, and I snatched his hand off for it. 

“I can’t remember if I got expenses as well but it didn’t bother me. I was just happy to be playing senior level and the money was irrelevant.

“It was a chance and John gave me that.

“He also acted as my agent when Hamilton wanted me and he took me up to Dundee Utd and did my deal there.

I never have publicly come out and thanked him. I kind of regret not thanking him enough as he was definitely a big part of my career where it all started. 

“I trusted him 100 per cent, he’s a great friend as well as a manager.”

Swanson was playing non-league football with Leith Athletic when he got his big break but he admits he feared it would never come.

He added: “Had I given up hope of getting that break? Yes. I was doing plumbing, playing football with mates at Leith Athletic but we split up having won all the cups and couldn’t go any further. 

“It was just my dad phoning John asking for a trial. I didn’t know what I was going to do, I wasn’t really bothered about football but then I went down there and I enjoyed it, and since that day I’ve never looked back.”

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