Buzzing Block vows to work to impress new Hibernian boss Heckingbottom

Tommy Block at Hibs / Picture: Hibernian FC
Tommy Block at Hibs / Picture: Hibernian FC

Former Rocks ace Tommy Block has vowed to retain his focus on breaking on to the first team scene at Hibernian after the shock departure of manager Neil Lennon.

Midfielder Block, 18, was recruited by former Celtic boss Lennon from Bostik Premier division Bognor at the turn of the new year after impressing for the Nyewood Lane outfit and subsequently displaying huge potential in two trials at Easter Road.

And the ex-Brighton youngster enjoyed a dream start to life in the Scottish Premiership when he was named as a substitute in a Scottish FA Cup game at home to Elgin City.

But Lennon's stint as Hibees gaffer ended abruptly after chief executive Leeann Dempster relieved him of his role following internal disciplinary issues. His departure saw Block's progress as a first team player stall but he continued to flourish in the clubs U20 side.

Now he has set his sights on a return to the senior squad with the arrival of former Barnsley and Leeds United manager Paul Heckingbottom as head coach.

Block, who played in an 8-1 win at home Dundee on Monday for the development squad, says the new boss has brought a new energy to the club. He said: "The manager has come in and changed certain things about how he wants to play and it's all really positive. Obviously, it was a bit of a shock when Neil Lennon left but I know that is what football is about and I need to keep my focus on training hard, playing well in the U20s and hoping to get a chance with the first team.

Block living the dream after Bognor to Hibs move is sealed
"I still train with the first team on some days and have used it to gauge my progress and I am happy with how I am developing to be honest. I am training full-time so am getting fitter and stronger all the time and the aim is to be in peak condition if the call comes from the manager.

"But the big picture is that I signed a deal for two and a half years so that allows me to develop and in time become a player that can repay the faith the club have put in me by offering me the professional contract.

Block puts Hibernian training techniques to test at Bognor
"I am still living the dream. I have settled in really well into my apartment and the club have been exceptional in the way they have looked after me. The lads are a great bunch and there is a good mood throughout the camp.

“We attend first team home games and it’s great to watch the action and try to learn from the more established players. Just being a Hibs player in and around the ground on match day is a real buzz. The fans are so passionate about their team and it makes you realise it is a very special club.”

Hibs U20s play their home games at Oriam, Scotland's national performance centre for sport, based at Heriot-Watt University's Riccarton campus in Edinburgh. The Scottish Rugby Union and the Scottish FA use it as a training facility, as do city rivals Hearts.

And Block says the establishment is very impressive. he added: "The place is vast and everything is there is conducive to allowing those who use the facilities to become the best they can. It's an inspiring place, and I love playing games there."