‘I am delighted with how quickly I have settled back in again at Aberdeen’, says winger McGinn

Niall McGinn pictured at Pittodrie. Picture by Kath Flannery

Aberdeen winger Niall McGinn admits undergoing minor surgery last December was the catalyst for his quick-fire return to form on his Pittodrie return.

The Northern Ireland international had a procedure done on a hernia problem that had been niggling at him for months – even as far back as his last spell at Aberdeen.

His departure from South Korean side Gwangju offered the first real window for the 30-year-old to get it fixed.

Aberdeen are reaping the rewards as a few weeks later McGinn sealed his return on a long-term contract until 2021.

The playmaker has been in sensational form and has already pitched in with two goals and a host of assists.

Ominously for Premiership defenders he has only played two full 90 minutes since his return and has vowed the best has yet to come.

McGinn is set to start against Hibs at Easter Road today and he reckons it will be another step towards full match sharpness and rediscovering his top form.

McGinn said: “I have hit form quicker than I expected as I have hit the ground running.

“However I still think there is more to come from me.

“I have only played two 90 minutes so it will probably take four or five 90 minutes to really get up to full speed.

“I am delighted with how quickly I have settled back in again at Aberdeen and that I have managed to get a couple of goals and assists as well.

“This is a good time to be back involved as we are scoring freely and playing well. We just have to keep that going against Hibs.

“I am definitely enjoying my football at the moment.”

McGinn was Dons boss Derek McInnes’ first signing of the winter window. After the spell in South Korea he officially rejoined the Reds on January 1, the opening day of the transfer window.

The winger used the warm weather training camp in Dubai to work with the club physios and fitness coaches on his rehabilitation. He made his second Dons debut as a substitute in the 4-1 Scottish Cup defeat of St Mirren.

McGinn bagged a superb solo goal in the 3-1 defeat of Kilmarnock in the next match at Pittodrie, running from deep in his own half before rattling in from 25 yards.

That stunning goal came just two months after the procedure in Manchester.

He said: “It wasn’t an actual full-scale hernia.

“It was just a bit of disruption that needed stitched up.

“It was probably one of those ones where I had played a lot of football and hadn’t had much rest so it caught up on me a little bit. The specialist made me go in and do the procedure on me and I am thankful I got that done.

“I feel better for it.

“I have had my rest at the right time and have been working hard at the right time.”

Now on 70 goals for the Dons, his counter against Kilmarnock was McGinn’s first in a red shirt since netting in a 7-0 win at Dundee last March.

Asked if the injury problem had began to trouble him in that former spell at Pittodrie, he said: “There were signs of it and it had been niggling me for a while.

“When it was off-season it was the right time to get it done.

“I worked closely with the Northern Ireland physios and doctors and kept in close contact with them.

“The Northern Ireland doctor got me into a specialist in Manchester and I am thankful for that. I am just delighted to get it resolved and be back playing.”

McGinn’s return to the Dons has coincided with a four-game winning streak that has accumulated 14 goals.

He has had a hand in many of those goals which helped the Reds move to within eight points of Premiership leaders Celtic.

Aberdeen host the Hoops next Sunday, just three days after the Parkhead club face Zenit St Petersburg in the Europa League in Russia.

He said: “We have a tough couple of weeks coming up now but these are the games you want to be involved in.

“First we travel to Hibs then we have Celtic and both are massive, important games to set us up nicely in the league.

“We always just take one game at a time and are on a good run now.”

McGinn accepts the importance of emerging from the double header with Hibs and Celtic with positive results as the Premiership enters the latter stages.

Win both and the Premiership title race suddenly explodes wide open. However, McGinn, as is the philosophy within Pittodrie, will not look beyond Leith today.

He said: “We are on a good run now but we just always take one game at a time.”

Hibs go into today’s clash on a high having recently defeated Rangers 2-1 at Ibrox.

McGinn said: “Easter Road is a place that I like to go as I enjoy playing football in front of a big crowd.

“The way things have been going we go there with a lot of positives as we are scoring a lot of goals.

“The boys went down and beat Hibs earlier in the season and put on a strong performance against them later on as well.

“Hibs are a good side and are coming off a great result against Rangers.

“Their confidence will be high and we know it will be a tight encounter and another tough game.”