TEENAGE striker Ross Caldwell admits Leigh Griffiths has been an inspiration for Hibs this season, but he insists the Easter Road side are not a one-man team.
The 13 goals on-loan Wolves star Griffiths has bagged in the first quarter of the season have fired Hibs towards the top of the SPL and, while his performances have seen him singled out for praise, Caldwell reckons the team as a whole deserve credit.
He said: “Leigh and Eoin Doyle work really well together. I know that Leigh has obviously scored more goals, but most of them have come through team-work.
“He is more than capable of scoring spectacular solo goals, but there will have been a lot of assists in there for Eoin or other team-mates. I think that a lot of credit goes to the rest of the team.
“We’re not a one-man team, there are a lot of boys who are capable of scoring goals. Leigh is a great player to have in your team, obviously, but we know that we have got others who can step up too.”
Caldwell believes Griffiths will not only benefit the team with his goals, but also help the other young strikers at the club improve their game.
He revealed that the hitman is a popular character in the Easter Road dressing-room and is quick to pass on advice to the younger players in the side should they need it.
The 19-year-old added: “He’s a great guy to have in your team. Some of the stuff he does in training is just unbelievable.
“I know that he used to get a bit of a bad press when he was younger, but he’s much more mature now – coming from me who is only 19 – and has settled down a lot.
“He is always helping the other players out, especially Danny [Handling] and I, because we play in the same position as him.
“It’s great to get the help and advice on the little things that will probably make a massive difference to our game in the long run.”
Caldwell would love to get a regular run in the first-team himself, but he knows he can’t go banging on the manager’s door when the side have been performing so well, recent defeats to Dundee and Aberdeen aside.
He is, however, likely to be involved in tonight’s SPL match with St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park, while Sunday’s William Hill Scottish Cup clash against Hearts is looming large on the horizon.
Caldwell said: “I would love to have a chance. I did get a go when Leigh was injured earlier in the season and I know that I will get opportunities again through injuries, suspensions or just general tiredness, but when they are doing well then you have just got to get on with it.
“The manager has proved that if you’re good enough, he will play you.
“When he first came to the club he played me for a full 90 minutes when he could have gone for the easier option and played Shefki Kuqi instead, but he made a bit of a stand and went with me.
“Hopefully I have done well enough to show him that I am good enough to play regular football in the SPL.
“It keeps you on your toes, you know that if you let your performances dip then you want be involved. It’s as simple as that.
“You can’t slack because if you do you will quickly drop down the pecking order and that is not what anyone wants. We all want to be involved week-in, week-out.”
Caldwell is enjoying life under Pat Fenlon and revealed that the Hibs manager’s way of working brings out the best in the younger players in the squad. He believes Fenlon has had a huge part to play in ensuring so many kids are currently progressing through the youth ranks
“As you can tell, he is good with the younger boys and is always giving you advice,” said Caldwell. “There are lots of young boys coming through and I think a lot of that is down to him.
“He is obviously doing something right. He is a good influence on us and always makes sure that he is keeping us in the loop, telling us what we are doing well and what we are doing wrong or what we could be doing better.
“Obviously I am just a young guy so I am taking every day as it comes and going into training to give it my best shot.
“The team are doing well so I have just got to wait for my chance and when it comes along make sure that I take it.”
Caldwell is one of the latest in a line of Under-19s players to have broken through into the first-team squad. The likes of David Wotherspoon have shown the rest how it is done and Caldwell is hoping that he can follow in his mate’s footsteps by making a similar impression on the top team.
He continued: “I want to be involved as much as possible, but just to be in and around the first team is a big step for me. I am enjoying every minute of it.
“There’s me, Spoony, Sam Stanton and Danny Handling, who have come through from the 19s into the first-team squad and we’ve all been really pushing each other on.
“Brad Donaldson and Alex Harris are also in there and everyone just wants to play as well as they can now to give themselves a chance of being involved with the first team.
“Hopefully we can give the older players a bit of competition so there’s no room for slacking.”