Alan Stubbs today insisted Hibs fans have seen only the briefest glimpse of his latest signing Dominique Malonga’s potential.
The 25-year-old stepped off the bench to claim a debut goal from the penalty spot against Cowdenbeath last weekend, paving the way for the Easter Road outfit to recover from the shock of falling behind against the Fife outfit and win with a last-ditch strike from fellow substitute Jason Cummings.
But Stubbs believes that in the 33 minutes Malonga was on the pitch he did enough to show there’s plenty more to come, revealing that in addition to not being 100 per cent fit, the Paris-born player had also had to contend with a bout of sickness which had threatened to rule him out of the match altogether.
The head coach said: “For someone who was nowhere near 100 per cent match fit I thought his presence on the pitch was one of calmness, someone who had total control of his actions and that he looked like someone who knew exactly what he was doing.
“He had some really nice touches and movement, that dip of the shoulder to go one way only to go the other. In that short space of time we got a glimpse of the potential he has. He is going to get fitter, sharper. He’s still finding his feet, everything is new to him, a different country, a different culture and he’s still to bed into his new surroundings and build that bond with his new team-mates.
“Dom’s a quiet individual off the pitch but when he came on he looked far from that.”
Malonga described himself afterwards as a “confident” character and that trait certainly shone through when he grabbed the ball to take the penalty awarded when Cowdenbeath captain John Armstrong was spotted holding the shirt of Hibs defender Jordon Forster but, Stubbs claimed, he had no worries on that score.
He said: “That’s what I like to see, my strikers wanting to score goals.”
However, Malonga came close to missing the match, Stubbs revealing: “He was up throughout Thursday night with stomach cramps, which put a question mark against him and had he not trained on Friday he wouldn’t even have been on the bench.”
Hibs, meanwhile, have failed in a bid to have their match against Dumbarton brought forward to Friday, October 10, with a 7.45 pm kick-off. The Capital club had wanted to avoid a clash the next day with Scotland’s European Championship qualifying game against Georgia at Ibrox which kicks off at 5pm.
But Dumbarton rejected the suggestion, meaning the game will go ahead as originally planned and leaving Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster to apologise to fans who have already pre-bought tickets for the Scotland game.
She said: “We tried our best to move the game to the Friday night but Dumbarton, as is their right, chose against it. Now supporters will have a choice to make. Sadly that is out of our control and we would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.”