Hibs striker Elias Melkersen lifts lid on Lee Johnson's style and versatility expectations

Hibs striker Elias Melkersen is bigger and, he says, hopefully better under new Easter Road boss Lee Johnson.

The Norwegian striker arrived in January from Bodø/Glimt in his homeland, took time to settle, and scored a double on his first start in a Scottish Cup quarter-final victory over Motherwell at Fir Park.

He has started the new season ‘three or four kilos heavier’, with a brace against Burton Albion in pre-season and a goal and assist against Clyde, and was a coat of paint away from snatching an equaliser against Falkirk on Tuesday night when his header hit the post.

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Melkersen’s versatility allows him to play as a good old-fashioned number nine, but will also be expected to take up different roles out wide under Johnson.

“The manager has said that he wants me to play a little bit wider at times this season, but also as a main striker. That suits me perfectly, as long as I can play a lot of games, I will play anywhere,” he said ahead of the trip to Bonnyrigg Rose on Sunday on Premier Sports Cup duty.

“I always want to play as a central striker but I feel that being wider can help me as it means I can run forward to the goal instead of always having my back to the goal. It means I can fire off more shots earlier too.”

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Revealing that Johnson is ‘very strict’ with the players, Melkersen added: “It’s easy for us to understand what we need to do on the pitch. He wants us to go forward all the time so it is very clear what he means.”

Questions were raised about Melkersen’s ability in the second half of last season as he failed to find the net in any league games, but the striker insists there was a contributory factor.

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Elias Melkersen: bigger, and hopefully better under Lee Johnson

"When you make 100 runs and never get the ball, you do get frustrated so I think the new style will be very good,” he explained.

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As for Bonnyrigg, Melkersen insisted cup games are exciting, but Hibs would need to earn the right to a result.

“It’s different opponents, different people, so you always need to try to do the best you can do… even if the pitch is s***e. You just need to fight for it,” he finished.