Hibs head coach Neil Lennon believes teenage striker Oli Shaw is ready to play his part as the Easter Road side seek to turn up the heat on Aberdeen and Rangers in the race for second place.
Shaw has already claimed three high-profile goals, scoring in the Betfred Cup semi-final defeat by Celtic, repeating the feat against Brendan Rodgers’ side in the league draw and then notching a winner against Ross County.
But Lennon fears the youngster is in danger of being remembered for “the goal he never scored” following his disallowed strike against Hearts on Wednesday.
“I think he must have run over a black cat,” joked Lennon. “He’s disappointed, but he’s 19, he’ll shrug it off. But he can be very pleased with his contribution so far. His movement for the non-goal was great. He knew it was a goal and there was an element of disbelief when it wasn’t given.”
Lennon admitted he had been wary of pitching Shaw into first-team action, but was persuaded to do so given his prolific strikerate for the club’s development side. He said: “Oli is a work in progress. We have tried to drip-feed him in. I think he has been a real bonus for us. He’ll have a part to play in the second half of the season, how big I don’t know.”
Lennon expressed his disappointment at missing out on Niall McGinn, who opted to return to Aberdeen but revealed he is looking to bring in another attack-minded player, with Lithuanian Deivydas Matulevicius having been told he’s free to leave the club.
Hibs will go into today’s match against Kilmarnock without winger Brandon Barker, who picked up a knee injury in the derby with Hearts, while Martin Boyle and midfielder Marvin Bartley are doubtful with an ankle injury and a dead leg respectively. Boyle has signed a two-year contract extension, tying him to the club until 2021.
Kilmarnock’s Greg Kiltie will not be risked against Hibs. The winger made his first appearance of the season against Motherwell following a seven-month lay-off with a broken ankle but has a minor hamstring complaint and will not feature in the club’s final game before the January shutdown.