HEARTS’ latest signing Aidy White has been given a glowing endorsement – by Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom.
The 27-year-old was on the books at Barnsley during Heckingbottom’s time at the helm at Oakwell and, while he has been tormented by fitness woes in recent years, the Easter Road gaffer has no doubt White has the talent to be a hit at Tynecastle.
The former Leeds United left-back has not played a senior match since January 2017 due to a persistent groin injury and is currently battling back to full strength after penning a contract until 2021 with the Jambos.
And Heckingbottom was more than happy to put rivalry to one side after seeing White join him in Edinburgh.
“I know Aidy is fit and training now. He’s just been unattached for a while and I’m really pleased for him,” he said. “He’s gone through a lot to get fit and – I’m sure he’d say this – has been supported ever so well by Barnsley, as a club, and the individuals there.
“He got himself to a position where he could go out on trial and, hopefully, if he’s over his injuries, he’ll have many years ahead of him and play his best football.
“It’s probably fair to say Hearts might have struggled to get him, if not for his injury issues. That was maybe the case for us at Barnsley as well. He’s had a difficult time of it.”
Heckingbottom is acutely aware of the challenges faced by White, having been forced to hang up his boots due to similar injury issues during his own playing career.
“Injuries were always the worst because you’re helpless,” added Heckingbottom. “You feel like no-one wants you. It’s really tough.
“When you have an injury like Aidy’s, it’s really vague – there’s a time limit on it, or stages of progression. I had very similar injuries; one finished me, one I got through.
“You’ve got to retrain your body to be a player again and Aidy has done that, so all credit to him.”
Despite being a huge admirer of the player, Heckingbottom admits he did not consider making his own swoop, albeit he did hear about the player’s availability – from White’s landlord.
“I didn’t consider it. Not for any reason in particular,” added Heckingbottom. “I heard he was up here training. Someone told me . . . in fact it was the lad whose house he rents. I think he’s upset that he’s going to be missing out on his rent!”