SHAUN MALONEY hopes Sunday’s crucial Scottish Cup goal against Arbroath can help Kevin Nisbet win round doubting Hibernian supporters.
Nisbet has come in for heavy criticism from some fans this season as he has struggled to replicate the form that saw him force his way into the Scotland squad for last summer’s Euro 2020 finals.
The 24-year-old took his tally to just nine for the campaign with Hibs’ second in their 3-1 victory over Arbroath and he last scored in the league on Boxing Day.
That stuttering form has led some to call for the former Dunfermline and Raith Rovers marksman to be dropped as the Easter Road side hunt the right formula under rookie manager Maloney.
Nisbet celebrated last month’s winner against Cove Rangers by putting his fingers in his ears in a symbolic gesture aimed at his sceptics.
However, Maloney has been consistent in his backing for the 10-times capped internationalist and hopes the Hibs supporters singing Nisbet’s name at Gayfield is an indication of the rift being repaired.
He said: “It’s something I inherited, this issue with Kevin, and I have to say Kevin’s performances and his work-rate for the team has been very good.
“He’s been very committed.
“So, the fans show their support when the players do that and it definitely feels like a two-way street between Kevin and the support.
“Hopefully that’s for all of us. Hopefully, for all players and staff, the supporters feel the same.”
Meanwhile, Hibs have been boosted by the return to training of January signing Harry Clarke.
The on-loan Arsenal defender, who impressed when spending the first half of the season at Ross County, has not yet made his debut for the Easter Road side after picking up a hamstring injury following his arrival in the capital.
The 20-year-old is back running and is expected to return north to Hibs in the coming days following a spell of treatment from the Arsenal medical team.
However, it could still be another month before the youngster is ready to make his comeback and kick-start his Easter Road career.