Marc McNulty back at Hibs - but it was far from straightforward

Hibernian finally completed
the loan signing of Marc McNulty last night, freeing up Florian Kamberi to move to Rangers until the end of the season, with Greg Docherty
heading in the opposite 
direction.

Marc McNulty has joined Hibs on loan from Reading. Picture: Craig Foy / SNS
Marc McNulty has joined Hibs on loan from Reading. Picture: Craig Foy / SNS

It took longer than expected
to push what had already been a complicated deal over the line after some late financial obstacles were presented by the Scotland international’s
parent club, Reading.

But, after putting pen to paper last night, McNulty, who could feature against St Mirren today, said he was “delighted to be back” and was “desperate to be involved as soon as possible and help the team push on”.

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Signed in the summer on a season-long loan by Jack Ross, while he was manager at Sunderland, McNulty was frustrated by the lack of regular game time at the League One club, starting only seven
games this season, and he jumped at the chance to rejoin his former boss and return to the Easter Road club to see out the remainder of the 
campaign.

A similar deal last term served both parties well, with the striker helping Hibs move up the league table, weighing in with goals and assists as 
the Leith outfit finished the season ahead of their city rivals Hearts. That sustained run of games also gave McNulty the platform to clinch a place in the Scotland set-up for the March Euro 2020 qualifiers.

“Anyone who knows me knows how much I enjoyed my time at Hibs last season and how much I wanted to come back,” said the former Livingston, Sheffield United and Coventry City striker. “So, I’m grateful the people at the club pushed so hard to make it happen.”

It was far from straightforward, with the Black Cats initially reluctant to release him. Ross’ successor Phil Parkinson only relented late on Thursday night after he had bolstered his attacking options and the player and Hibs eventually forced the deal through.

“It makes a difference knowing I’ll be playing for guys who have already shown how much they want me and I’m looking forward to getting the chance to repay them,” he added. “I also want to thank the supporters. From the day I left first time around I’ve had so many positive messages on social media. People probably don’t understand how much that can mean to a player.”

His arrival provided the forward clout needed to free up Kamberi, and trigger Docherty’s move along the M8 from Govan to Edinburgh, where he also joined former St Mirren full-back Paul McGinn as another of Ross’ January recruits.

Midfielder Docherty, inset, who joined Rangers from Hamilton two years ago, spent last season on loan at Shrewsbury Town, netting ten goals in 50 appearances and earning rave reviews, but he has struggled to hold down a place in the title-chasing Rangers team since his return.

It is understood he had initially preferred a return south in the search of game time but, tied up in the Kamberi switch, he will now work with Ross in a bid to impress his Ibrox boss Steven Gerrard.

While the others are loan deals, right-back McGinn, who joins the club where younger brother John enjoyed so much success before getting his big move to Aston 
Villa, has signed an 18-month contract. Relishing the chance to work with Ross, who coached him at Dumbarton and signed him for the Paisley club before departing for Sunderland, McGinn claims that the recent family link with the club means he is well aware of the demands and the potential.

“I have been through to watch a lot of games over the last few years,” he said. “I was there on that Sunday [after the 2016 Scottish Cup success] when the open-top bus was there and it was such a special occasion. It just shows you how big this club can be.

“Over the past few years they have got back to where they should be, and hopefully we can keep that going.”

Having trained with the team yesterday, and with injuries influencing selection, he is expected to feature against his former club today.