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James Keatings returns to Hibernian without regrets after beating depression

James Keatings will return to Hibernian with his new side Hamilton on Saturday – but the striker admits he may never have left had it not been for a battle with depression.

The 26-year-old enjoyed some of the happiest times of his career in Leith after helping Hibs lift the William Hill Scottish Cup and then win promotion back to the Ladbrokes Premiership.

But he admits he was swayed into making a switch to Dundee United the summer before last when a dark cloud descended over him.

A bleak 12 months followed as he fought to repair his mental health.

Matters became worse though as a number of issues in his personal life – including the death of his grandfather – were compounded by the ankle and hip injuries that halted his progress at Tannadice.

Keatings will head back to the scene of happier times when Martin Canning’s men take on Hibs this weekend.

But there will be no regrets on his parts now that he has rediscovered an inner peace after signing up for a second stint with Accies.

“I had a great two years at Hibs and it was a club that was amazing for me with the Scottish Cup win and things like that,” said the striker.

“I’ve gone public since on what I’ve gone through and looking back, the decision to leave Hibs was probably made at the very start of the whole process.

“I was settled at Hibs and loved every minute of it but I wasn’t sure whether I needed something fresh. I was a bit all over the place.

“Anyone who has gone through depression, they know it impacts everything and especially your decision-making.

“I felt getting a fresh start will give me a boost but it didn’t work out that way.

“Last season wasn’t the best for myself with injury and things like that. The travel was also a massive thing for me. Going up to St Andrews every morning was a bit of a killer.

“Two hours in the car every day is very draining. I felt by the time I got to the training ground like I’d already done a training session in the car.

“I was going out feeling tired and sore from sitting in the car. When I got injured I had to go in earlier than the rest of the squad so I couldn’t even travel up with anyone else. Driving up myself was horrendous.

“I came back in for pre-season and made it clear to Csaba Lazslo that I wanted to leave. I wanted to come back closer to home and be settled.

“I had that conversation the first week of pre-season and it took until the last day of the window for me to get my wish. There was a bit of a tug-of-war at the end and I was even made to train with the under-20s.

“But I got on OK with the manager. He was clear he didn’t want me to go, he wanted to get me fit and playing. However, my interest was in myself and getting myself enjoying my football again.”

Keatings got his wish as a move to Hamilton was pushed through and, with his mind and body now straight, he feels Accies will see the best of him.

He said: “Being injured in a way turned out to be a blessing. It gave me time to get myself right and to research it all and find out a lot more about myself and how to deal with it.

“Thankfully I now feel great. I’ve been better for months now. I knew this club would be somewhere I’d feel settled. I’m back here and I’m loving it.

“There were times last year when I didn’t want to be on a pitch but now that I feel better I believe you’ll see the best of me coming through in my performances.”

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