Evening Express

Aberdeen new boy Hoban hopes injury hell made him better a better player

Tommie Hoban

Loan signing Tommie Hoban is relishing the challenge of European action with the Dons after returning from a 16-month injury hell.

The Watford defender was ruled out for the whole of last season having suffered a cruciate ligament injury in pre-season training.

Now back to full fitness he was thrown into the starting line-up at left-back in the 1-1 draw with Burnley just 36 hours after arriving at Pittodrie

That starting debut was due to Andy Considine being ill.

Hoban impressed on his debut and is in contention to retain his starting slot in the return at Turf Moor tonight.

And he aims to use Europe and his season-long loan at the Dons to show Watford his quality.

He said: “I have had a very frustrating time in the last two or three years with injuries.

“A lot of people go through that in football and in some ways I feel it has made me a stronger person mentally.

“Hopefully a better player as well, although time will tell.

“I had a lot of time to think about life on and off the pitch and it makes you appreciate the position that we are in as footballers.

“I am delighted to be up here at Aberdeen and I am hoping I can show what I can do, show that to Watford and the whole of the footballing world.

“Hopefully that will help Aberdeen this year and help myself forward my career.”

Hoban was signed on the eve of the first leg of the Euro tie.

He said: “I didn’t actually know I would be starting until a couple of hours before the game.

“In some ways it is nice as you don’t have to think about it too much and stress yourself out or get nervous.

“I had been out for 16 months and didn’t actually expect it to be my first competitive game back.

“It went well and I am just looking forward to the tie now.”

Playing in Europe for the first time was a lure in signing on at Aberdeen.

He said: “There were a couple of other clubs interested, but I’d not played in Europe before.

“It’s something that’s hard to turn down, to put that on your CV. Being thrown in last week made me realise how big it really is.”

Aberdeen are the underdogs for tonight’s clash.

However, the defender revealed boss Derek McInnes has told the Reds to grab the chance to be heroes by knocking out the Premier League outfit.

If the Dons could claim an English top flight scalp in the Battle of Britain, it would rank as one of the club’s greatest Euro achievements since the 90s.

Hoban said: “I have only been here for a week but you can tell there is a buzz around the training ground and the place.

“We have come up against a team that did so well in the Premier League last season.

“The manager said we will become heroes if we win and it will be a match that will be remembered for a long time.

“Everyone is buzzing for it.”

Hoban has played against Burnley at Turf Moor before with Watford and expects a tough test.

However, the 24-year-old is confident it is a challenge the Reds can rise to.

He said: “Burnley had a great season last year and to finish where they did in the Prem was really special.

“But we have gone out there and really matched them and could have come away with a win.

“We are definitely still in the tie, which shows the level of Scottish football is right up there.

“Burnley were challenging the top six Premier League teams last season and if we are matching them it shows the gap between the two leagues isn’t what people think it is.”

Championship Swansea have made an approach for defender Scott McKenna.

Dons boss Derek McInnes reckons the 21-year-old is good enough to play in the English Premier League.

Hoban said: “Hopefully Scott will stay with us this season and help us out.

“I’m looking forward to playing with him.

“From what I’ve seen so far, he’s good on the ball, strong, aggressive – he’s a very confident young boy.

“He’s got the attributes to be a Premier League player.”