SCOTT Allan has expressed his confidence that Hibs will prove to be a match for both Hearts and Rangers as the Scottish Championship race develops over the coming months.
The Easter Road club have made a stuttering start to their bid to secure immediate promotion back to the Premiership, winning only three of their first eight league games under new manager Alan Stubbs.
Last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Raith Rovers left them fifth in the table, just outside the play-off places. They are currently 12 points behind early pace-setters Hearts and six points adrift of second-placed Rangers.
But midfielder Allan, who has caught the eye with some of his performances since joining Hibs on a two-year contract in the summer, believes he and his team-mates can find the consistency required to push themselves firmly into the title race.
The 22-year-old ex-Dundee United and West Bromwich Albion player regards the 3-1 victory over Rangers at Ibrox ten days ago as the most accurate representation of Hibs’ potential under Stubbs.
“It just clicked for us that night and I thought we deserved the win,” said Allan. “Okay, it was just another three points and we would have liked to build on it with another win against Raith on Saturday, which we didn’t manage to do.
“But, against Rangers, we showed what we can do when we play as a team. We created chances on the counter attack and it worked for us.
“I certainly wasn’t pinching myself at the result that night. Rangers had started the game well, but we got into it and we looked dangerous on the break.
“We took our chances, which is something we haven’t been doing in a lot of other games. So we need to be more clinical. We need to find people with passes and take our chances.
“If we do that, then we would be a match for anyone in the league and we should win most of our games this season. If we weren’t creating the chances, then I would be a lot more worried.
“We are creating chances week in, week out – we need to take them and then see games out.”
Allan, capped ten times at under-21 level for Scotland, is seeking to rejuvenate his career with Hibs after his move to English football proved unfulfilling. He failed to make a first-team appearance for West Brom and had loan spells with Portsmouth, MK Dons and Birmingham City before being released in the summer.
Allan admits he now looks on enviously at the progress of his former Dundee United youth team-mate Ryan Gauld, who has earned his first senior Scotland squad call-up following his £2.3 million transfer to Sporting Lisbon. Allan said: “Ryan is different class and I wish I’d made that type of move to a foreign club when I had left United.
“I think it would have suited the type of player I am and Ryan has done the right thing in going abroad and not choosing to go to England.
“In Portugal, their culture is to have players like that. For them to come to Scotland and take someone like Gauldy must mean he has something.
“He is a few years younger than me, but we all came through with the same youth coach at United, Graeme Liveston. He brought all of us through – the likes of Johnny Russell and David Goodwillie.
“I trained with Gauldy a few times and I know him well. He was there from the age of ten, the same as I was. I have known him all the way through the youth system. I remember one of the first times I saw him in training. I had just come back from a broken leg so I went training with the youth team coach Stevie Campbell.
“Ryan would just see things that other players couldn’t see. I remember talking to Stevie and shaking my head because he was a step above everyone else, even though he was so small.
“He was only 16 at the time and he had only just become full time. I wouldn’t say he was doing outrageous things skill-wise, but he was just ahead of everyone else.
“He just has to deal with the hype surrounding him by playing his football. When you are young, all you want to do is play in front of fans and express yourself. Ryan plays the way he has always played all the way up. He doesn’t change his game for anyone.
“That is why people love watching him because you don’t see a lot of that in Scotland anymore. I would have said back then, when I first saw him, he’d have the ability to go and play for Scotland easily.
“There are not many players who have that ability but they don’t always come through due to a lack of patience from coaches or are just not given the chance sometimes because of the style the team plays.
“But Ryan was given the platform to go and play by United. He is just a quiet boy who loves his football. It’s as simple as that.
“It is still early doors to say he deserves to play at full international level when you have got guys playing every week in the English Premier League who are proven internationals.
“Gauldy has obviously not had that consistency to say he deserves to play against Georgia on Saturday. But in time, I would be surprised if he doesn’t play for Scotland regularly.”
• Scott Allan was speaking at the launch of the 2014-15 SPFL Topps Match Attax Collection, which features all Scottish Premiership and Scottish Championship clubs. It is on sale now from all good retail outlets.