Bamba blasts back

Hibs defender pleads his case after AWOL accusation

Bamba: Blasted back

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Hibernian defender Sol Bamba has hit back after being accused of going AWOL by the club.

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Manager John Hughes said the Ivory Coast star failed to report for pre-season training on Tuesday after being given extra time off following the World Cup finals in South Africa.

But Bamba insists he never agreed to return at that date and he is angry that the issue has been played out in public.

The defender told the Daily Record: "I've had a whole lot of family and friends on the phone who have been worried something had happened to me after what they'd read in the newspapers.

Angry

"I'm angry about the way the club made this public. I have never cheated anyone at Hibs, I've always given everything for the team. The manager knows that, too.

"I tried to speak with the manager and the chairman to explain the situation. My agent also phoned them to ask if I could have some extra time off."

Bamba added that since last May, he has not had a break and he wanted three weeks off after the World Cup to recharge his batteries.

"I played something like 59 games for Hibs last season, plus the African Nations Cup and then in South Africa," he said.

"I might not have played at the Finals but I was training hard every day there and before the tournament to make sure I'd be 100 per cent ready if I got my chance.

"There was a lot of travelling, too. We were stuck in an airport for two days in Africa and I didn't get back to Paris until July 1.

Never agreed

"Hibs were expecting me to return to Scotland barely 10 days later on July 12. I don't know why they now told the papers I was supposed to back on the 19th, I never agreed to that either.

"I'm very disappointed. The manager played the game, he knows how it is and the chairman has been in football a long time. I expected more support."

But the Ivorian insists he will still give his all to the cause when he finally meets up with his team-mates.

He added: "I get back to Edinburgh at the weekend and I am looking forward to speaking with the club about everything that's happened.

"I've even been working with a fitness coach in Paris to make sure I'm 100 per cent. I'm a Hibs player and I'll come back and be ready to work as hard as ever for the club.

"They may want to punish me with a fine but we can speak about that. I've done this because I think it's the right thing."