BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
CRAIG SIBBALD was on hand to spread Festive cheer on Thursday as the Falkirk squad delivered presents to sick kids on their annual visit to Forth Valley Hospital.
And the gifted playmaker is hopeful his timely return from injury proves to be the perfect early Christmas gift for Bairns boss Paul Hartley.
Sibbald, 22, insists he has endured the most testing spell of his career after spending two months on the sidelines with a persistent thigh complaint, being forced to watch helplessly as Falkirk become sucked into a relegation battle.
However, he will return to the starting line-up for Saturday afternoon’s visit of Brechin City and says his fitness travails have only made him more determined to make an impact on his return.
Sibbald said: “I have spent eight weeks injured and then we’ve had two weeks without a game because of call-offs so I’m just desperate to get back playing really – you just want to play your part and do what you can to help the team get back to winning ways.
“I’d say this has been the most difficult period of my career, in terms of the club being towards the bottom of the league and me being out injured at the same time. That’s been one of the toughest things I’ve had to deal with.
“But that can only make you stronger. It has made me even more determined to come into the team, make a difference and make up for lost time. Hopefully things will turn around quickly and we can all end the season on a high.”
Sibbald’s fitness woes have meant that he is yet to make an appearances under new boss Paul Hartley, who is yet to taste victory since succeeding Peter Houston.
Nevertheless, he has been complimentary about the difference he believes Sibbald can make. That has been music to the ears of the midfield maestro, and he is determined to help his new boss realise his vision for an attacking, free-flowing Falkirk side.
“I’ve read some complimentary things from the gaffer, talking about how he likes what I can do on the ball and the creativity I can bring,” continued Sibbald. “So it’s up to me to take that into the games, show what I can do and help the team get a few goals on the board.
“The manager wants to go forward, press teams and has told us to express ourselves in the final third. That’s exactly what I want to hear, so I just can’t wait to play under him.”
Falkirk, currently in a relegation playoff berth, have slipped eight points behind eighth-placed Inverness. However, with 22 games still to play, Sibbald’s aspirations remain lofty – with the Bairns only 16 points off fourth spot.
“I think we should be challenging for the playoffs and hopefully we can still get there,” added Sibbald.
***Craig Sibbald was speaking as the Falkirk squad delivered gifts to the Children’s Ward at Forth Valley Royal Hospital**