Hibs boss Shaun Maloney speaks on ideal position for Harry Clarke

Shaun Maloney hopes Harry Clarke can have a strong finish to the campaign after fighting back from injury to score on his Hibs debut against Dundee United last week.

Thursday, 7th April 2022, 10:30 pm

The versatile defender signed an 18-month loan deal at Easter Road, joining on a temporary basis from Arsenal in early January, but less than a week later he had suffered a hamstring injury and spent three months on the sidelines.

Clarke was handed a start last weekend and scored on the stroke of half-time as he netted on his first appearance in green and white.

Despite starting in a slightly unfamiliar position of left-wingback, Maloney believes the 21-year-old can help provide what his team has been missing in recent months.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - APRIL 02: Harry Clarke in action for Hibs during a cinch Premiership match between Hibernian and Dundee United at Easter Road, on April 02, 2022, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

"Harry has big attributes. He's really good at attacking open spaces, really fast, a very good athlete,” he told the Evening News.

"He's very good in that final third so he definitely brings us something we were missing. That's why we went for him, but he has big attributes defensively as well, as we saw against Dundee United.

"I'm just really happy to have him back after his injury. He was out a long time so we don't want to put too much pressure on him but at the same time, I'm really looking forward to him replicating what he produced for Ross County, and increasing on that in the last period of the season, the most important.

"He's such an infectious character for the squad so it’s a really big boost for the staff but also for the players.”

Best form of defence is attack

Hibs’ trials and tribulations in the final third have been well documented, and while Clarke is mostly viewed as a defender, Maloney is keen that the number two contributes more in the attacking areas, having already opened his account in green and white.

"Harry can play numerous positions. He gives us an option to play a back four, which we've done recently. He can play on both sides and he can operate as a wingback, full-back, and as one of the wide centre-backs in a three,” Maloney explained.

"He gives us loads of options, but at the moment I see him making more of an impact in the final third, bringing us that speed and power that maybe we've lacked in the last couple of months.

"Going forward I see him more as a wingback but hopefully now, once we get into the final third, we can really use his attributes.

Competition and complements

Maloney’s wingbacks combined for Clarke’s goal against the Terrors, Cadden providing the cross for his fellow wideman, and the Hibs boss is eager for those on the flanks to chip in with more goals and assists.

"Chris has had a really good season and been excellent for me, but he definitely should have had more assists. Some of that's been down to finishing; if we'd been more clinical then I think he would have five or six more assists.

"But I'll be expecting the same from Harry.

"Demi Mitchell is another who can play that role, but he's still a few weeks away.

"We've missed him – he's scored two goals, which is as many as I think any player has scored for me since I've been here.

"Hopefully Harry can continue to bring a goal threat for us."

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