Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has welcomed Jackson Irvine’s move to Hibs, 10 months after the midfielder’s last competitive match.
Released by relegated Hull City in June, Irvine signed for Hibs yesterday until the end of the season and with Australia due to return to 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification action in March, Arnold is delighted that the player will be back plying again.
He said: “It’s great that he’s coming back – he captained Hull at times and was a big player for them.
“The fact it’s taken a long period of time to find a club just shows how tough the market is in Europe right now (in the coronavirus era).
“Everything has tightened up, monetary-wise and recruitment-wise, so to get into a good club like Hibs is a great thing for him.
“It’ll be really pleasing to see him out there on the pitch playing again.”
The 27-year-old has been working in isolation on his fitness – with Socceroos strength and conditioning coach Andrew Clark aiding and abetting him with a tailored program and Arnold doesn’t believe it will take him long to regain his touch, timing and durability once he’s up and running again.
He continued: “He’s been working on his programs and Jackson has always had a great work ethic and is a top professional.
“You’d expect he’d be in quite good shape and it will just be a matter of getting that match rhythm back.
“When he starts off he’ll have plenty of energy and he’ll get by on that for a while but when the reality kicks back in, he’ll be right.
“Hibs have been a bit inconsistent in recent weeks but other than that have been doing well and will be fighting for a European spot.
“I think I’ve shown a lot of confidence and belief in Jacko since I’ve been in charge,” he said.
“He scored a couple of goals against Taipei … he’s a good finisher higher up the pitch, but is very versatile and can play as a number six or a 10.
“Against Jordan (in Australia’s last World Cup qualifier) he came up with a great assist for Adam Taggart in our 1-0 win, so for me he’s a very good player who’s important to us.
“We’ve been told that March is going ahead, that’s the message we’re getting from AFC,” Arnold said.
“At the moment we’re just sitting and waiting to hear more.”