There’s something Aiden McGeady wants to make clear.

At 36, and having spent much of his brief spell at Hibs on the treatment table, he’s worried the watching world might think he’s come back to Scotland for a slow wind down to retirement. But as the veteran winger rolled back the years in Sunday’s 3-2 win over Motherwell, his first Premiership start in over a decade, it quickly became apparent he’s not quite done yet.

McGeady’s senior CV stretches back to a Celtic debut in 2004, since spanning eight clubs and a four-year stint in Russia. These past few months, though? Among the toughest of his entire career.

It seems unthinkable given how seamlessly he slotted into a Hibs side in desperate need of that weekend victory, but so painful was his struggle with a recurring knee problem, McGeady gave serious consideration to calling it a day. It’s amazing what (almost) 90 minutes can do for you, though.

“It was my first game in the league here for more than 12 years,” McGeady said. “It’s not that I feel I’ve got something to prove, it’s just that I’ve not played so long I feel I owe the club and the fans something.

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“I feel people might think I've just up come here for the last couple of years of my career. That’s not the case at all. I still love playing football and I still feel I have something to offer.

“The injury really set me back a lot, because it was a recurrence of the same one from last season. There’s nothing worse than being injured. The last four or five months have been some of the worst of my career.

“I actually contemplated just packing it in completely. I thought, ‘I’m never going to get over this’. But it’s all worth it when you have days like Sunday, when you are out there enjoying playing football again and showing you can make a difference.

“It was just about getting over the pain in my knee. We took it really cautiously this time. At Sunderland I rushed back and had two or three setbacks.

“I was more cautious this time. There must have been people thinking, ‘he’s up here for a jolly, or to top up his pension’, whatever they want to say.

“I absolutely wasn’t. I still love playing football and I want to do well for this club.”

Three points at Fir Park was only their second victory in eight league outings, building considerable pressure on manager Lee Johnson and the club’s decision-makers. McGeady doesn’t want to make excuses, but pointed out Hibs have also been without the likes of Kevin Nisbet, Kyle Magennis and now, Martin Boyle, for extended periods.

The erratic nature of the Premiership means a dire run can be quickly corrected with only a few positive results, and the Easter Road side are still well within reach of the European places. McGeady hopes the weekend result will prove a catalyst for a better second half of the campaign.

“I don’t want to speak about what’s gone on before,” he said. “But if you put myself, Nisbet and Magennis, the three of us have been out for a year. Martin Boyle as well.

“It doesn’t help the manager when you have three or more focal points of the team out, it will hold you back a bit. I can only imagine he feels better having us three fit and I'm just glad to get back on the pitch again.

“We have gone on such a bad run but it just shows how tight the league is. You win three games in a row and you shoot up the table. 

“We just need to put a but of a run together. We’ve got Dundee United and then Hearts in the Scottish Cup. It’s not been good enough but hopefully Sunday will be a turning point.”

Johnson has taken the blunt of the flak for Hibs’ issues, but has been almost as equally outspoken as his critics. Openly critical of recruitment, scathing on his team’s ‘mediocrity’ in the final third, Johnson seemingly has no issue in bringing further scrutiny on himself.

McGeady, though, believes the players who haven’t been delivering consistently for him need to stand up and be counted. But he firmly believes the return of key men will make a considerable difference.

“It’s about the buy-in from the players. The manager is the one who loses his job at the end of the day but the players need to take responsibility.

“The manager picks the team and the formation, but it’s hard when it’s down to individual errors, like it was at 2-0 at Tynecastle. The manager gets the blame, but that’s the industry we are in.

“I think if he gets his best players and formation, with the game intelligence and game management, I don’t think we will be too far away.”

The return of Nisbet, as evidenced by his hat-trick at Fir Park, is a welcome one. The striker spent the best part of a year out with an ACL injury, and now looks determined to make up for lost time.

McGeady isn’t quite sure how far the Scotland international can go, but has spotted similarities with his old team-mate at the Stadium of Light, Ross Stewart.

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“I’d probably compare him to Ross Stewart a bit,” McGeady said. “He’s got an eye for goal. His build up play is very good. He doesn’t need a lot of touches to turn or try to beat players when he has his back to goal.

“He’s clever and his movement is good – and he’s a good finisher. He’s just back from an ACL injury and he’s scored five goals already, including a hat trick.

“For us, he’s a massive player, because we need goals. If he carries on the way he is, there will be no shortage of suitors. I don’t want to be talking him into a move away from Hibs, but we know how these things happen.

“I don’t know about England or Celtic or Rangers, but he’s been really good from what I’ve seen so far. I’ve obviously not played a lot with him but he showed on Sunday what he can do.”