Hibs boss Neil Lennon has accused Florian Kamberi of “a lack of hunger” and selling his team-mates short, claiming the Swiss striker’s penalty miss against Livingston summed up his form at present.
Lennon has privately been unhappy with the performances of both Kamberi and his fellow striker, Australian internationalist Jamie Maclaren, but now his frustration with the pair has boiled over.
Kamberi and Maclaren, arrived on loan in the last January transfer window and immediately formed a lethal partnership, scoring 17 goals between them and helping to almost steer Hibs into second place in their first year back in the Premiership.
Those exploits saw Kamberi return on a three-year contract and Maclaren for a further season on loan but both have proved to be a huge disappointment with just nine goals between them, eight of them scored by the former Grasshoppers Zurich man.
Admittedly both had injury problems earlier in the season but Kamberi has scored just one goal since October while Maclaren’s solitary strike came as far back as August. And in recent weeks Lennon has found his front men outshone by defender Ryan Porteous who has scored as many goals as them in Hibs’ last ten games. Pointing out how he “got rid” of leading scorers Anthony Stokes and Simon Murray, Lennon warned Kamberi and Maclaren that with the January transfer window about to open, they could be gone as quickly as they arrived.
“Those two haven’t been functioning, not working hard enough,” said Lennon who exempted young striker Lewis Allan from criticism following the 1-1 draw with Livingston.
“They’re not applying themselves, they’re not working hard enough. I can’t remember the last time we headed a goal in from a cross. We’re relying on Porteous again to get us out of trouble.”
But it was Kamberi, who replaced Oli Shaw at half-time, who drew the most stinging criticism from Lennon, the 23-year-old having surrendered possession far too easily allowing Livingston’s Craig Halkett to play a simple long ball for Ryan Hardie to open the scoring before compounding his misery with a weak penalty which was easily saved by visiting goalkeeper Liam Kelly.
A Porteous header salvaged a point for Hibs who had hoped to end the weekend in fifth place in the table but sit seventh instead.
Lennon said of Kamberi: “I don’t know if it’s a confidence thing or a lack of application, but he’s nowhere near as hungry as he was last season. He needs to find that hunger again because he’s an important player for us.
“He scored against Celtic but he’s not getting any tap-ins, he’s not getting across people, he’s not holding the ball up well enough and I’m relying on other players to get us out of it.
“The penalty sums him up at the minute, he’s sloppy. His all-round game at the minute is just not there. He’s had plenty of opportunities to turn things around but even on Saturday I asked him to put 90 minutes of work into 45 and told him we’d win the game.
“We put the ball into the box and had things around his feet as that’s what he’s good at but there is no work-rate. He’s not working hard enough and the point isn’t hitting home.
“We’ve been sitting on this for weeks and weeks but we’re getting no response from him. We’ve been talking to him in private for a long time. It’s not been good enough for a couple of months but I’m not just talking about goals, it’s his all-round work-rate which isn’t there. Allan did so much more in terms of the dirty work. Menga does it for Livingston and Morelos does it and others.
“You aren’t always going to get the perfect ball, you need to work for it. If you aren’t scoring goals then you need to bring something else to the team. If you aren’t doing that then we are a man down and that’s not acceptable any more.”