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FC Halifax Town: Hibbs shines after being brought in from the cold

Football - FC Halifax Town v Eastleigh. Jake Hibbs
Football - FC Halifax Town v Eastleigh. Jake Hibbs

Jake Hibbs seemed as far from the Town first-team as Freddie the Fox earlier this season - but he grabbed his chance with both hands when he started last Saturday’s 3-3 draw against Eastleigh.

Hibbs was transfer listed by manager Billy Heath in the summer, along with fellow midfielder Liam King, after being sent out on loan to Bradford Park Avenue at the back end of last season.

But Heath was forced to recall Hibbs last Saturday due to several absentees, which could help him keep his place against Barrow tomorrow.

“I think Scott McManus is suspended now so Billy might not have a choice!” joked Hibbs, who admitted he was a little surprised at the recall.

“The gaffer had a word with me on the Thursday and said I could be starting.

“It was good to get on the pitch again. I felt I started alright. I thought my free-kick had gone in - I was going to go ballistic but the keeper made a good save.

“I thought we started really well in the first 20 minutes, but the two goals we conceded were so soft - I thought the first one was a foul - and they knocked us a bit.

“But the character and the heart the lads showed to get back into it was great.”

Hibbs’ last start for Halifax came against Telford last December, while his last appearance for Town was in their 1-0 win at Altrincham in February as an 84th minute substitute.

“It’s frustrating because all you want is a chance to show what you can do,” Hibbs said.

“I think that’s been the toughest thing for me this season. On a personal level it’s been fine with the gaffer, there’s no ill feeling.

“Some managers just have players they like and players they don’t like - I think that just happens in football and every player goes through that at some point.

“While it is frustrating, you’ve got to keep a level head and wait for your opportunity. And hopefully it will come now.

“You can either lose your head and get to the point where you don’t want to turn up for training, or you do what me and Kingy did, and just keep trying your best.

“With us being in the same position, it helped us both to see the positive side and keep turning up to training and work hard.

“That helped me and I think it helped him as well.

“But you never know when you can play, like last Saturday. You’ve always got that little bit of hope, but you just come to terms with it eventually.”

Hibbs has played under four different managers at Halifax - Neil Aspin, Darren Kelly, Jim Harvey and Heath - but has never enjoyed a prolonged run in the first-team under any of them.

When asked why he thought that was the case, he said: “I’m still only young, I’ve only just turned 22.

“It’s maybe a bit of inexperience. Maybe the managers have looked at it and thought I’m not experienced enough.

“But if I can get a run of five, six, seven games and get some form, then I think I can play at this level. I did that when we got relegated.”

Hibbs admitted his lack of match practice started to tell near to full-time last Saturday.

He said: “When you’re part-time at this level you’ve got to keep yourself fit.

“I think my last full game, apart from the two recent friendlies, was at the end of April for Bradford Park Avenue, so it has been a while.

“It’s hard to keep on top of your fitness when you’re part-time. I was starting to blow a bit in the last 15 minutes and my legs were hurting but I think that’ll take two or three games to get back to where I should be.”