THE club’s ambition is to finish the Championship season in second place. But Hibernian’s on-loan goalkeeper Mark Oxley says he is unwilling to settle for anything less than No 1 status.
The 24-year-old’s current contract with Hull City expires in the summer and, having spent a transient couple of season’s at Oldham Athletic and then Easter Road, he says the priority when securing signing off on any future deal will be the lure of regular first team football.
“I’m 25 next year so I don’t want to be sitting on the bench. Once you have had your taste of it and especially when you have been playing at big grounds like I have been up here, you don’t want to go back to sitting on bench.
“This is my fifth or sixth loan and I understand that it is part and parcel of the game and a way to go out and get games and learn but I’m at the stage now where I want to settle somewhere.”
While he remains in contact with the goalkeeping coaches and staff at Hull, he does not appear to be holding out much hope of getting the guarantees he would want to extend his contract. That uncertainty might worry others but, having enjoyed a solid season in Scottish football, he is happy to focus on helping Hibs gain promotion and leave everything else to take care of itself.
“There’s a still a long way to go in this season, so I’m just concentrating on that for the moment. I have loved it here since I’ve come up, from day one, since I met the manager. Playing every week is massive for me and the lads here are great. They are a great bunch of lads and I don’t think there is one person who doesn’t get on with the next so I’m loving it.
“At this stage in my career, I have been out on loan too many times for my liking and I just want to settle somewhere now and if that’s here or somewhere else, I’m just looking to play as many games as I can do. That’s what I’m looking for.
“The main reason for me coming out on loan this year was to get playing so if I didn’t get anything at Hull then I’m in the shop window and that has stood me in good stead so far. This has been the most valuable in terms of coming to another country and living here and experiencing football here. Last year I had a season on loan which was pretty similar to this but that time I was at Oldham and they were down at the other end of the table and that’s a different experience. Now we are up the top end and the pressure is on us to be winning.”
The victory over Rangers last week saw them overtake the Ibrox club. Aware that the pre-season favourites to win the title have games in hand, Alan Stubbs’ men say the only thing they can do is keep picking up the points and leaving Rangers with less and less margin for error.
“Staying in second place is going to be the hardest part. Getting there was always going to be hard but now we are there, it’s going to be even harder staying there. We’ve spoken about that and it’s all right going to Ibrox and getting the results there – we have beaten them three times – but we have got to go to lesser places and if you are not picking up points there then it’s all worthless.
“I think the game against Rangers was massive. We are coming into the business end of the season and that was a really big game but we move on from that now and look forward to Dumbarton Saturday.”
They have already defeated Ian Murray’s men on League Cup duty and, while they were held to a 0-0 stalemate the last time they met in Leith, in October, they thrashed them 6-3 in the shadow of the Rock a month later. That result signalled the first of seven wins in the last 11 league games and added to a run which includes just one defeat in the last 18 Championship matches.
“It’s good to have that momentum coming into the business end [of the season].
“You want to have your full squad all fit and you want to be playing as well as you can. Against Rangers we didn’t play as well as we would have liked but when you are not playing well and still picking up results at places like Rangers, it shows how good this group is.
Defensively, and as a group, we showed a different side to us, that, when we need to, we can stick in there. Maybe earlier in the season we wouldn’t have been able to do that so I think that shows how far we have come. It makes the points we dropped at the start of the season all the more frustrating, but hindsight is a great thing. When you look at the people in the building now and you look at the squad the gaffer has built, it says a lot about him and how far we have come. We just need to look forward now and keep the run going.”
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