Shaun Maloney in Hibs reality check as he confesses European dream ‘is a big ask’ amid injury crisis

Shaun Maloney insists Hibs will struggle to keep fourth spot unless their injury crisis eases after failing to score for the third game running.

The point from this stale draw with relegation-threatened St Johnstone actually lifted the Leith side into the European spots on goal difference.

But with 10 experienced Easter Road stars sitting out the clash and none likely to be fit anytime soon, boss Maloney admits it will be a tall order for his team to stay where they are.

Hibs were toothless in attack again following draws with Celtic and Dundee.

Maloney said: “We are very young. To ask this squad to push for fourth is a big ask. They need more senior players back.

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“They’ve given me everything, there was no lack of effort there. It’s just that bit of quality in the final third.

“We still didn’t give up many opportunities, we have to take that as a positive because it’s the foundation of a team.

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“But we are playing at home and I wanted to give the fans a little bit more than they got in the second half.

“We have 10 out injured, it’s a lot but I don’t want to keep using it as an excuse.

“I feel as long as we’re in touching distance after the international break, hopefully by then we will have three or four back.”

After a dull start, there was at least some goalmouth action before the break.

Ex-Hibs midfielder Melker Hallberg found himself in space outside the area after Josh Campbell was loose with a pass but the Swede’s effort flew wide.

Hibs could have gone in at the break in front. Christian Doidge had to do better when he was presented with a free header from Sylvester Jasper’s cross.

The Welshman was only about eight yards from goal but somehow failed to make any meaningful contact.

Saints keeper Zander Clark then made a double save to keep out Chris Cadden’s awkward bouncing drive and Doidge’s shot on the follow-up.

Saints heaved a sigh of relief at the start of the second half when Cammy MacPherson avoided a straight red card for a reckless tackle on Jake Doyle-Hayes. He was only booked.

Hibs looked to their bench for inspiration and subs Scott Allan and Elias Melkersen, who made his home debut, combined to create another chance.

Jasper found Allan, who teed up Melkersen in the six-yard box. The Norwegian’s effort was kept out of the net by some last-ditch defending.

At the other end of the pitch Ryan Porteous made a great stop to keep out Callum Hendry’s drive before Saints sub John Mahon threw himself in the way of a Josh Doig shot.

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At only £5 a ticket, 19,584 punters watched this stalemate and Maloney admitted: “They turned up in numbers and it’s disappointing we were not able to get them the win.

“I don’t think I can ask any more in terms of effort.”

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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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