Hibs striker facing key decision on future as Lee Johnson discusses two options

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Hibs manager Lee Johnson has spoken about the Easter Road future of Elias Melkersen, as the forward prepares to return to the Capital after a half-season loan spell with Sparta Rotterdam.

The Norwegian youth internationalist headed to South Holland in January, with the Eredivisie side holding an option to buy as part of the agreement. But the 20-year-old made just two senior appearances for Maurice Steijn’s side, making his debut as an 88th-minute sub in a 3-0 victory over SC Cambuur in January and getting seven minutes at the end of a 3-0 defeat by Utrecht in February – his last involvement in the first team.

Melkersen also featured for Jong Sparta, the club’s second-string side which plays in the third-tier Tweede Divisie, on three occasions against Quick Boys, Katwijk, and Koninklijke. The former FK Bodø/Glimt striker could be involved when Sparta embark on their UEFA European Conference League play-off campaign. They face Utrecht in one semi-final with Twente and Heerenveen contesting the other. The winner of the play-off final will qualify as a seeded team in the second qualifying round of the competition.

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Speaking last month, Johnson discussed Melkersen’s impending return to Hibs, insisting that his time in the Netherlands hadn’t been a waste despite his lack of senior gametime.

Lee Johnson has teased a summer of change at HibsLee Johnson has teased a summer of change at Hibs
Lee Johnson has teased a summer of change at Hibs

"I spoke to Elias on Zoom recently. I like Melks; he's a great lad, a great professional. Obviously he hasn't played [for Sparta Rotterdam]; he's gone out there to get minutes and he hasn't got minutes. But what I do know is that it's not been wasted. A lot of technical work has been done with him and I think that's a real strength of the Dutch coaching system. I think he's enjoyed it; he's experienced another level of football,” Johnson explained.

"He also appreciates, I suppose, the minutes he does get back home and it's another strong experience for a young player. Melkersen is our player. Sparta do have an option to buy him but I wouldn't have thought it would be executed based on the fact he hasn't had as many minutes as he might have hoped. Therefore we will welcome him back with open arms and we'll see how he goes. I suppose the option is for him to fight and compete for his place, or go out on another loan."

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