Hibs boss Alan Stubbs today insisted midfielder Liam Craig is getting back to his best, admitting his skipper has come through a “difficult time” this season.
Although club captain, Craig has found his place under threat, the 27-year-old having to be content with a place on the bench at times, with Scott Robertson, Scott Allan, Danny Handling, Dylan McGeouch and Sam Stanton providing stiff competition in the middle of the park. However, with McGeouch injured, the skipper has been back in the starting line-up for the Easter Road outfit’s last five matches and claimed his first goal of the season as Hibs fought back to knock Alloa Athletic out of the Scottish Cup last Saturday.
Craig, renowned for his scoring record at previous clubs Falkirk and St Johnstone, admitted the goal was long overdue, coming 11 months after his previous one. The midfielder scored nine for Hibs last season, with the last of them coming at the start of January when he notched two against Dundee United at Tannadice. Head coach Stubbs is hoping that first-half strike at the Indordrill Stadium will prove to be the first of many, revealing he believed missing a penalty at Tynecastle in the first Edinburgh derby of the season with the game goal-less had perhaps been preying on Craig’s mind.
He said: “I’d spoken to Liam about him having an eye for goal and he’d been very conscious of the fact he had not scored this season. It maybe took a bit longer than he anticipated, but I am hoping it’s going to be like the buses, you wait long enough for one then two, three and four come along together. If that’s the case, great. I’ve been pleased with Liam’s performance but if he can start adding some more goals that would be even better.
“I think the penalty at Tynecastle did affect him, it was a big game. But it is a measure of his character and mental strength that he never tried to hide from the ball.
“It would have been very easy for him to do that and I have to commend him. He’s had a difficult time, but he has come through it.”