El Alagui keen to help fire Hibs into top flight
Farid El Alagui today admitted he's desperate to play his part as Hibs chase down promotion and a place in the Scottish Cup final after stepping off the bench to earn the Capital club a precious point.
The Easter Road striker has been used sparingly this season after recovering from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon, making just six appearances as a substitute.
His latest came in Paisley as Hibs boss Alan Stubbs went for broke, his side 2-1 down to St Mirren and staring a fifth successive Championship defeat in the face, a gamble which paid off as El Alagui fired home the equaliser with only two minutes left.
Insisting the point earned could prove crucial as Hibs seek to finish second in the table and so avoid adding an extra two play-off matches to what is already a punishing schedule, he said: “It could be important between now and the end of the season.
“We’d have been disappointed to have come back home with nothing but, while we are disappointed – we wanted all three points – it could be a good point.”
Having gone ahead through Jason Cummings’ 21st goal of the season, Hibs were rocked when a clearly-offside goal from Buddies frontman Rocco Quinn was allowed to stand, the Saints then adding a second through Lawrence Shankland before El Alagui’s dramatic intervention.
Refusing to become involved a debate about Quinn’s goal, the French-Moroccan striker preferred to concentrate on the bold move by Stubbs to end the match with four strikers.
He said: “It was hard to see from where I was whether he was on or off. We’ll never know if we might have gone on to win had it not been given, but referees do as well as they can. It’s not easy.
“It’s not the first time, it won’t be the last. But it’s how you react which is important. The manager went for it in putting on four strikers. He might have taken off a striker and put another on but he took off a midfielder and put another on up front.
“I don’t think too many teams being 2-1 down away from home would have done that. It was a brave decision but sometimes you have to take a chance, take a risk and it worked out quite well for us.”
While Cummings and on-loan Celtic star Anthony Stokes have emerged as Stubbs’ first-choice partnership up front, El Alagui insisted the head coach has plenty of options at his disposal – including himself.
The 31-year-old said: “We have a lot of good strikers, not just Anthony and Jason. There’s James Keatings, Chris Dagnall and myself. There’s quality and, I think, different attributes but it’s up to the manager who plays.
“But we have a lot of games coming up and I think every player will have a contribution to make between now and the end of the season. You have to stay fit and every time you get a chance do as well as you can every time you are on the pitch.
“I think we showed character and desire. We set our standards really high earlier in the season and maybe they have dropped a little bit in the last few games but this was better.”