Hibs striker Elias Melkersen says he has more to give as he makes 'early start' claim
There was enough hype surrounding Elias Melkersen following his six-figure arrival from Norwegian champions Bodø/Glimt in January without him becoming Hibs’ first-choice centre-forward.
He had only just turned 19 when he made the hop from the Arctic Circle to the Capital but arrived full of confidence and ready to make his mark in a new country.
Melkersen had to wait to make his debut, finally taking his bow as a second-half substitute in a goalless draw against Dundee in early March.
"I came from off-season so I needed some time to get in shape but I was in good form when I came. I still had to take a step up, and that was just one step on many steps I still must continue to take,” he said ahead of Hibs’ penultimate home game of the season against Aberdeen.
Former Easter Road boss Shaun Maloney was keen not to rush Melkersen into action but was eventually almost forced to, following long-term injury to Kevin Nisbet.
With Christian Doidge also struggling for fitness and form, the spotlight was turned onto the teenager. He has two goals in nine appearances but has promised more next season.
"I think it is a process for myself to start and develop my game in every match. Next season will be good because I will have more experience,” Melkersen added.
"It has been more physical so you need to think about that. You need to think faster and smarter and that was something I think I needed to get better at.
"But I think I could have been used earlier as well.”
There’s that confidence coming through again. Extra pressure? No problem for the buoyant youngster.
"I like to have pressure on me, and the spotlight. I enjoy all that. It is good to have pressure because it makes you play your best."
He hasn’t shied away from the physical side of the Scottish game either, despite standing less than 6ft tall, but he does show a maturity when discussing his progress – and coming up against towering centre-halves.
“I like to play physical but if the guy I’m up against is three heads bigger than me then maybe I shouldn’t take on that fight,” he smiles.
"I’ve already added some kilos since I’ve been here but I can get stronger. I always want to improve so I will try my best to be better. I know I need to play smarter so that is something I need to get better at as well.”
He has learned from fellow strikers Doidge and Nisbet but also from the defenders.
"They help me every day but now both of them are injured I need to take a step up and be there for the team,” he adds.
“They help me every day and I appreciate it so much but they are not the only ones. There are so many players here who have taken me under the wing and helped me.
"Even the defenders as well, you should listen to them, because they know what they hate to play against. I try to get something from everyone.”
It is still a learning curve for the forward but if he carries on in this manner, after a robust pre-season, he should be a key player for Hibs next term.