Hibs striker hailed as tougher opponent than Jermain Defoe and Odsonne Edouard

Premiership defender found McNulty hard to handle

Hibs' Marc McNulty is congratulated by Scott Allan (L) after making it 1-0 during a Ladbrokes Premiership match between Hibernian and Ross County at Easter Road on February 12

A Scottish Premiership defender has hailed Hibs striker Marc McNulty as the toughest player he faced during the season.

St Mirren centre-back Conor McCarthy says the on-loan Reading hitman caused him more problems in half an hour than Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard and Rangers hitman Jermain Defoe managed in a full match.

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The Irishman played and scored for St Mirren in a 2-2 draw at Easter Road in February, with McNulty coming off the bench on the hour mark.

McCarthy joined the Paisley club from Cork City in January and despite Defoe scoring the winner for Rangers on his debut, with Edouard also netting in a 5-0 defeat at Parkhead, it was the Hibs man who left the biggest impression.

"I played against Marc McNulty at Hibs and he had very good movement and awareness," he told the Glasgow Times.

“Some other strikers are more physical and enjoy that type of battle so, as a defender, I enjoy that side of the game.

“But McNulty did a lot of dropping short to go in behind and I felt that was something I can try and get better at in future.

“He was probably the hardest player to play against.”

The Saints stopper was discussing the Hibs striker alongside Defoe and Edouard, whom he also rates highly.

“I haven't played against Alfredo Morelos, when I played against Rangers it was Jermain Defoe who started," he added.

“What struck me against him was his movement, he was always on the last shoulder looking for that chance.

“That's what he's made a career of, being a fox in the box, so he was a very good player.

"Against the likes of Celtic and Rangers we play quite deep so it denies them a bit of space, so I don't think Odsonne Edouard dropped too deep into midfield to get the ball and they weren't really up against us as centre-backs at Celtic.

“I know, of course, that if it was a more expansive game I'd have an awful lot more problems to deal with."

McNulty, who moved to Hibs for the second time in January after spending the first half of the season on loan at Sunderland, scored four times in eight appearances, including a hat-trick against BSC Glasgow in the Scottish Cup.

He has two years remaining on his Reading contract, but has fallen out of favour at the English Championship outfit, with Hibs manager Jack Ross understood to be keen on keeping the 27-year-old at Easter Road.

"I think when you bring in loan players, and I’ve always thought the loan market is a difficult one to get right, there are a lot of misses as well as hits. But, the ones that were brought in have all contributed," he said.

In the unlikely event that the season resumes, McNulty will be banned for the first fixture back having served only half of his two-match suspension for stamping on Sean Clare in the Edinburgh derby defeat on March 3 before the campaign was called to a halt.