Florian Kamberi believes he and his fellow Hibs striker Jamie Maclaren are ready to re-ignite their free-scoring partnership.
The pair plundered 17 goals between them after arriving at Easter Road on loan for the second half of last season, their exploits earning Swiss hitman Kamberi a three-year deal with the Edinburgh club while Australian internationalist Maclaren returned for a further year in a green-and-white shirt from German club Darmstadt.
However, Kamberi and Maclaren have had little chance to strike up that lethal partnership so far, the former Grasshopper Zurich player troubled by a knee injury in recent weeks, while head coach Neil Lennon has admitted the other half of the duo is still “coming up to speed” after a summer spent at the World Cup with the Socceroos,
Having been reassured he won’t cause himself any more damage by continuing to play after seeking the advice of a trusted specialist in Germany, Kamberi returned to action against Kilmarnock at the weekend in Hibs’ 3-2 win.
After operating as a lone frontman, Kamberi was joined for the final 18 minutes by Maclaren and, within minutes, the pair had engineered the winning goal, Kamberi’s pass leading to a tangle of legs between Maclaren and Killie defender Kirk Broadfoot which referee John Beaton deemed a penalty.
Kamberi stepped up to thump home the spot-kick and so earn a much-needed three points for Lennon’s side, the 23-year-old admitting he much prefers having Maclaren alongside than running the line himself.
Now the 23-year-old, who claimed four goals in Hibs Europa League adventure, insists he and Maclaren are again ready to hit the goals trail in earnest.
Kamberi said: “It’s difficult when you play against a physical team when you are alone between the two central defenders, it’s not easy. But it was easier when Jamie came on. I like to play with two strikers and I was very happy to see Jamie.
“I think everyone can see the connection. I gave him the pass, he was fouled and it was a penalty. People saw we have a good partnership.”
However, while he feels it won’t take long before he and Maclaren are again firing on all cylinders, Kamberi conceded it may take a bit of time before Lennon’s new-look side hits top gear, the likes of Mallan, Emerson Hyndman, Daryl Horgan and Thomas Agyepong settling into life at Easter Road while Hibs’ latest signing, veteran Australian midfielder Mark Milligan, has barely been with the club a week.
Kamberi added: “The squad is getting stronger as the new players settle in. We’ve got a very good squad. The new players have been good, but we still need time. It’s not as if we have been together for a year, but game-by-game it will get better.”