Bring on the Norwegians!
Hibs fans have been eagerly awaiting seeing much talked-about signing Elias Melkerson strut his stuff on the pitch.
This was not the ideal game in which to make his somewhat belated entrance with his team battling to take something from the game while a man down. However, the striker still showed some nice touches during the 13 or so minutes he was on.
So, too, did compatriot and friend Runar Hauge, who was sent on at the same time for his own debut. The winger also managed to get himself booked. Melkerson’s entrance was particularly welcomed by Hibs fans who had started to wonder if they had imagined him signing from Bodo/Glimt for a six-figure fee in early January. It’s not often that clubs in Scotland pay a lot of money – reputed to be over £300,000 - for a player so there is understandable interest surrounding the 19-year-old.
Manager Shaun Maloney clearly wants to be patient with the teenager, who as well as getting to grips with a new country and style of football is still short of match fitness. Kevin Nisbet’s long-term injury could mean he features more regularly now, though he might still have a wait on his hands before making a first start.
Asked whether he had been pushed into handing Melkerson his debut earlier than he would have liked due to necessity given Hibs’ injury problems, Maloney replied: “No, with Elias he has really been progressing and was on the bench the last couple of games before he was ill. He was more than ready to produce substitute appearances.” Maloney admitted it had been a “big ask” for Hauge, who was described as a long-term project when he arrived at the end of the transfer window from the same Norwegian club as Melkerson.
Dundee manager Mark McGhee joked on the eve of the match that because of his touchline ban he would have to be content with giving opposite number Shaun Maloney a wave from the directors’ box rather than greet him at the dugouts as he would have preferred.
The pair worked together for Scotland and had much to catch up about. They finally got the chance to have a chinwag when their paths crossed prior to performing their press duties afterwards. The bitter cold didn’t seem to concern them as they spoke for at least ten minutes on the Dens Park main stand concourse after the 0-0 draw.
Maloney was of course brought up in Aberdeen although he was only four months old and still living in Malaysia, where he was born, when McGhee played a significant part in bringing the European Cup-Winners’ Cup trophy to the city in 1983. They are at opposite stages of their managerial careers but it was good to see McGhee taking the time to give the young apprentice some words of wisdom.
Charlie Adam hamstring fears
It says it all about the influence the 36-year-old still wields on this Dundee team that his departure due to injury shortly after the hour mark seemed to have a greater impact on the outcome of the game than Rocky Busheri’s red card a few minutes earlier.
Adam went down clutching his thigh shortly after a mazy run into the box that almost resulted in him scoring a stunning goal with his less favoured right foot.
Shaun Byrne replaced him but the holding midfielder could not hope to fill the creative gap and Dundee failed to unduly trouble replacement Hibs 'keeper Kevin Dabrowski. Of more concern for Dundee is the length of time Adam will now be missing. The Dens Park side have won only a single point this season without their aging skipper – against Livingston in September. He was absent for several games at the end of last year with a hamstring problem. Now it looks as thought he has sustained the same injury.
“He’ll struggle for Saturday,” said McGhee afterwards, with reference to the crucial weekend trip to Motherwell. “How bad it is beyond that I don’t know.” Dundee’s Premiership fate could hinge on the prognosis.