Oli Shaw admits it’s been tough sitting on the bench for months on end, but now the Hibs striker is hoping two goals as the Easter Road outfit wrapped up their Spanish training camp with a win over Dutch side Willem II will put him back in the reckoning.
The 21-year-old striker has been forced to play no more than a cameo role this season, limited to just seven appearances as a substitute as Christian Doidge and Flo Kamberi led the line.
But made the most of being given the full 90 minutes against the Eredivisie club, cancelling out Freek Heerkens first half opener from the penalty spot before claiming a last-minute winner.
Shaw only learned on the morning of the match that he’d be playing from the start after Kamberi picked up a knock in training, the Swiss hitman sidelined as a precaution but, he revealed, he immediately backed himself to find the back of the net.
“Scoring two goals was massive for me,” he said. “As a striker you want to get goals and to get two goals I am pleased. But it was important we got the win and two goals topped it off.
“It’s definitely been frustrating. I am a football player, I want to play games and score goals but the new manager has come in and just had to bide my time.
“Hopefully I have shown what I can do, I am a goalscorer, I got my two goals so hopefully in the next couple of games I can get a sniff and do what I have done today.
“It’s obviously tough sitting on the bench when the team is doing well and scoring goals. Doidge has been on fire at times, Flo has chipped in with a goal here and there. So you have to bide your time.
“It is difficult to come off the bench and try to make an impression, invariably you come on when the team is losing. I am a striker so when we are losing I am going to be flung on to try to get us a goal.
“It puts pressure on you but as a striker you thrive on it. I’ve done it before and I know I can do it although I would obviously prefer to start games. But I’m ready to take my chance when the gaffer gives me it.”
“My contract isn’t up until the end of next season so I have time on my side, but I want to be playing games and playing football for Hibs now, so I hope I can be doing that.
“Having time on my contract takes a bit of pressure off but it’s frustrating when you are not playing. Regardless of when it is up I want to be playing now, scoring goals and progressing from there.”
After falling behind, Hibs left it late to get back into the match, Shaw equalising after he himself had been clipped by defender Joao Queiros and then displaying his predatory instincts to pounce and tuck away the winning goal after team-mate Martin Boyle had seen his shot blocked.
He said: I had dinked the ball over the goalkeeper, and was about to tap it in when their boy clipped me. I thought my chance had gone but I was always going to take the penalty.
“And I was delighted to get the second. As a striker you are in the box and to have reacted quicker than the defenders meant I was happy with that one.”
More importantly, insisted Shaw, the fact Hibs had finished the match so strongly proved the punishing training schedule head coach Jack Ross had put his players through with twice daily sessions on the Costa del Sol had paid off.
“We were happy to top off a tough week, a good week,” he said. “Obviously they are a good outfit, they are fourth in Dutch League, beat Ajax so we knew it would be a tough test. They kept the ball well and we had to be patient and happy to finish with win.
“They beat us 3-1 in Faro two years ago I played up front with Simon Murray, and missed a couple of chances that day so I was happy to put them away today.
“It was tough with the heat as well. It took a bit to get the legs going but once you get into the game you get your second wind and get going. We’ve been put through our paces this week but it’s only going to benefit us in the long run.
“To score two late on shows the fitness work we have been doing has paid off. The gaffer has put us through our paces, double sessions every day. It’s been a tough week, a few guys were walking like John Wayne - I was one of them.
“We’d walk into breakfast each morning and see the training schedule for the day up on the whiteboard and you’d see a few boys shaking their heads and saying ‘oh no’.
“But it’s better knowing what’s coming you can prepare for it. It’s been tough but the boys have been brand new, we’ve got the job done so it’s been worth it.
“The win was good for us and gives us confidence going into a big game against Dundee United in the Scottish Cup next week.”
“Hopefully I have pushed myself into the manager’s thoughts. We have another week’s training before then so I will be working hard and come the weekend and the team is picked, fingers crossed I am in it.”