Kevin Nisbet will find Hibs scoring touch insists Shaun Maloney as he stands by struggling striker

Shaun Maloney insists he doesn’t need to talk about Kevin Nisbet as he backed the Hibs striker to rediscover his scoring touch.

The Leith outfit fired blanks again against St Mirren on Saturday as they failed to net for the fourth time in their last five Premiership fixtures.

And that has heaped fresh scrutiny on Scotland hitman Nisbet.

The 24-year-old was a capital sensation last year but he’s struggled to reach those lofty heights this term having found the net just eleven in his last 11 league outings.

But Maloney was adamant Nisbet retains his full backing as he insisted he has not had to seek out the striker for a word on his confidence levels.

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“Since I have been here I actually think Kevin’s performances have been really good,” said the Hibs boss.

“As a nine outwardly you can be judged on the amount of goals you score.

“But as his manager, I’ve been really happy with his performances, his workrate – there has definitely been a change in the relationship between Kevin and the support.

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“I really feel there is respect now, and a real sort of connection between the two.

“So I don’t feel I have to pick Kevin’s confidence up.

“I know there’s going to be a moment when these chances are taken.

“Not talking about Kevin specifically but I know he is going to take them.

“I’m really confident he is going to be a big player for me in terms of the success we’re hoping to have.”

But Maloney admits his team do need to find their ruthless side ahead of tonight’s trip along the M8 to face Rangers.

“It’s the full team that has to be clinical,” he stressed. “It can be a free header from a set play, it can be a full back or wing back coming from the other side when they get an opportunity.

“I certainly don’t focus on whether it is Kevin or Christian Doidge. It’s everyone, really, it has to be the full team.

“At the moment any mistake we make, the opponent is taking and that’s been the difference.”

Maloney was 18 when he made his Celtic debut at Ibrox.

Now aged 39, he’s preparing for his first visit to Govan as a boss.

He got off to an assured start in the Easter Road hot seat with three wins out of four.

However, it’s now four games without a victory for the former Belgium coach, with the grumbles growing by the week.

But Maloney denied he’s feeling the heat.

He said: “I’m good. I share the disappointment of the results, of course.

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“I’d love to win every game but I also knew when I took over there would be really positive moments and there would be bumps on the road.

“When I took over we were seventh, one win in nine. I understood there was a lot of work to be done and understood it was not going to be fixed in two games.

“I’m absolutely fine, I’m really clear on where we need to get to.

“I’m more than happy to take the pressure. I’d much rather it came on me than on my players.”

Maloney can expect a toasty reception from the Rangers support – and so can Ryan Porteous as he again prepares to be cast as the pantomime villain at Ibrox.

Maloney’s predecessor Jack Ross was forced to defend the centre-back after he was subjected to abuse after being sent off in Glasgow back in October.

There was another round of flak after he handed the champions a match-winning spot-kick in Edinburgh a couple of months later but Maloney sees no reason to caution the stopper on the pitfalls he is likely to face tonight.

He said: “With Ryan I’ve been concentrating on his performance against Hearts. That was as good a centre-back performance as I’ve seen in the country this year. I really believe that.

“Really every game is about trying to get him back to those levels.

“No [I haven’t spoken to the players about keeping cool heads]. It’s been about preparing for Rangers as a team. I will speak to them about the emotional side of the game before kick-off.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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