A year in the making, Hibs’ Scott Allan loves linking up with Marc McNulty
But, he insisted, that’s just a glimpse of what’s to come, adamant that the understanding he expects to develop is going to bring plenty more goals.
Allan had hoped he and McNulty would be team-mates this time last year, the striker joining Hibs on loan at a time when he’d signed a pre-contract deal to return to the Edinburgh club.
But his desire to clinch an early release from Celtic failed to materialise, leaving him to spend the rest of the season running down his contract knowing he had no chance of first-team action.
Now, though, Allan is in the thick of it, pulling the strings in the middle of the park, spraying precision passes such as that which led to McNulty’s goal against the Staggies only days after the forward claimed a hat-trick in Hibs Scottish Cup win over BSC Glasgow.
Revealing he’s known Scotland striker McNulty since the age of 18, Allan said: “Last year, when I was hoping to get here in January, playing with him was one of the things I was really looking forward to – but it wasn’t to be.
“I’ve had to wait a year, but the partnership feels natural. I know his style of play and know that it suits me.
“It’s all about how he plays, he’s on the shoulder ready to go, so as soon as I get the ball I can look up and know where he’s going to be.
“In fairness, I had two chances to put him through after the first goal the other night. He went and I didn’t play it. It’s still getting there – but it will come.”
Allan believes Wednesday night’s performance was evidence of what he believes Jack Ross’ side is capable, saying: “As a team, that was the best attacking football we’ve played in a while.
“We had been scoring goals but maybe not sustaining the amount of pressure we would have liked. I felt we really did that against Ross County.”
Tomorrow’s match against Kilmarnock signals the end of a punishing run of nine games in less than a month for the capital side and Allan believes a free week on the training ground can only help integrate January arrivals McNulty, Greg Docherty, Stephane Omeonga and Paul McGinn into Ross’ way of working.
“We’ve not been able to train properly over the last few weeks, we’ve just kept ticking over because of the number of games we’ve had,” Allan continued.
“Now we’ll get time to train as a squad and get a bit of structure in place.
“It’s half the battle sometimes, for players coming to a new club, getting that training and hitting the ground running.”
Allan admitted he hadn’t seen much of Docherty before his arrival on loan from Rangers, where he’d found himself without first-team football since August.
Docherty has already shown he’s likely to be a shrewd acquisition by Ross in the two games he has played and Allan believes he will thrive at Easter Road and is certain the supporters will take to him in the same way he’s enjoyed their backing.
He said: “Greg brings energy and quality on the ball, so he’s definitely added to the team. I hadn’t seen much of him but his agent is a friend of mine, so he told me he would add to the team – and he was right.
“The fans here, if you do well for them, really value you – and it’s a proper football environment. So it is a great thing for him, he’ll be delighted.”