The evolution of Hibs star Josh Campbell - most improved player, impressive stats, Mike Posner forfeit

Not for the first time in the game, Hibs midfielder Josh Campbell made a brilliant run down the side of and in behind the Aberdeen defence.

He latched onto a Chris Cadden pass after Dante Polvara had misjudged the path of the ball. All that was required was for the midfielder to get his head up and cut it back for debutant Mykola Kukharevych to roll the ball into the empty net.

Instead Campbell opted to shoot from a tight angle. The decision was met with frustration from the Easter Road stands.

A player who described his performances last season as “erratic” could easily have wilted and allowed such a decision with the score at 1-1 to fester and impact his performance negatively.

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Seven minutes later it was all forgotten as another piercing run split the wayward visiting defence, touch and calm finish past Roos. A huge goal followed soon after by another.

Campbell was the defining player, more so than the excellent Ryan Porteous and Chris Cadden, of a big 3-1 win over Aberdeen. So much so, he drew comparisons to Frank Lampard from manager Lee Johnson.

"That's the first I've heard of it but I'd love to be like him,” the 22-year-old said. "He was a very good player and scored a lot of goals so I'd love to try to emulate him.

"Sometimes I get involved too much, I want to be on the ball in every area of the pitch, but the manager has told me to take a breather and play my position.

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Josh Campbell celebrates after scoring his second of the game in Hibs' 3-1 win over Aberdeen. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

"I think he means that, and when I get the ball to touch, pass, move.

"Last season I was a bit erratic. I was young, never played in the top flight, and I just wanted to be quick and busy. But he's told me to relax, put my foot on it, and move on."

The evolution

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Campbell is clearly enjoying his football on and off the field, even if he had to sing Mike Posner’s Cooler Than Me at training recently as a forfeit. He is an early contender for the most improved player in the league. A frustrating facet of his game last season in a deeper role was his willingness to pass the ball back to where it came from. This campaign he has steadily grown into the attacking midfield role Hibs needed filled with Kyle Magennis unavailable.

Campbell fires his first goal of the game past Kelle Roos. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

Behind the four league goals, the stats back up is evolution. His contributions are more meaningful. He is receiving and passing the ball less, involved in fewer duels but he is creating and shooting more, he is averaging more than twice the number of touches in the opposition box compared to last season but he is also winning the ball back for his team more frequently and higher up the pitch.

"I've always been told to sniff around the box for second balls and I've been urged to shoot more often and I think I'm doing that,” Campbell said.

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"He tells me to make that run in behind teams and it'll stretch them. If I get the ball, great, but if I don't then I'm making space for someone else.

"I worked with him closely in Portugal, what he wanted from me this season, and I think I'm showing what he asked for."

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