Hibs v Hearts: Kevin Nisbet out to silence doubters as Shaun Maloney brings in legends for derby inspiration

When he converted Josh Doig’s cross for what turned out to be the winner against Cove Rangers in extra-time of the Scottish Cup fourth-round tie, Hibs forward Kevin Nisbet wheeled away with a pointed goal celebration.

By Patrick McPartlin
Monday, 31st January 2022, 10:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st February 2022, 12:59 pm

The 24-year-old hasn’t quite replicated his form from last season but, he revealed, he was only too happy to remind some detractors of his ability.

"It was just about silencing some doubters who have been saying, 'he's a flash in the pan,' and all that stuff. There was no malice in it at all,” he said.

While insisting he doesn’t dwell on negative comments, the Scotland striker did admit to a bit of frustration at some of the criticism.

Shaun Maloney is looking forward to his first Edinburgh derby

"I don’t think it plays on my mind as much. I’m not really one to look too much into it.

"I think obviously it’s just a bit of frustration coming out. I know if I go out and score ten goals in the next ten games then everything is forgotten about.”

There is no shortage of confidence with the former Dunfermline Athletic forward. He knows what he can do and believes it is just a matter of time before things click in front of goal.

"Every striker goes through blips and bad form and I just need to keep my performances up,” he adds.

Kevin Nisbet is eager to prove the doubters wrong - starting against Hearts

"I’ve always said the more doubters the better because the more people I get to prove wrong.”

Nisbet would dearly love to start proving people wrong when Hearts come to Easter Road for the second Edinburgh derby of the campaign. An away victory would push Hearts 15 points clear of Hibs in the Scottish Premiership, but the forward isn’t entertaining the idea.

"Being 15 points behind your rivals is not acceptable,” he continued. “Going into the derby, we need to make sure that doesn’t happen.

"We are not looking too far ahead. We are just focusing on winning the game and closing the gap.

“In derbies anything can happen. It’s just the way it is. Everything goes out the window. It’s about desire and who wants it the most. We need to do that and we need to come out on top tonight.

"Our style and the way we play suits me perfectly. I love to get on the ball a lot, love to create things and try to get on the end of things. I think that has been happening and it has just not clicked in the final third yet. Hopefully, against Hearts, it will.

"These are the games you look forward to at the start of the season; tthe games you mark in your calendar and you want to go and be the hero and score the winner and win derbies. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Meanwhile, Hibs boss Shaun Maloney has called on a host of former Hibs players ahead of the Edinburgh derby to help give his side an edge.

"I’ve never been to an Edinburgh derby before so I invited quite a few ex-players into the training ground this week and I’ve been really pleased they accepted the invitation.

“Pat Stanton and Paul Kane, were at training on Monday.

“I enjoyed listening to the stories they had on their positive experiences – and less positive experiences.

“That’s definitely something we’ll try to carry on, not just for derby games but for every game, really.

“I think that connection was maybe lost in the last few years. These guys have amazing history at the club and the more players like that who are around, the better.”

Stanton’s most famous victory against Hearts was undoubtedly the 7-0 win at Tynecastle on New Year’s Day 1973 but Maloney insists the wealth of experience both he and Kane have has been invaluable for both him and his players.

“It wasn’t just about the derby. With some of the managers they’ve played under, it was also quite interesting to hear their experiences as players here.

“This club has got amazing moments in its history and we have embrace our former players and celebrate them, and they have to be a part of the club for a long, long time.

“They have to feel as if this is their club, so they have to be welcomed back into the games, and they are always welcomed at the training ground.

“So, I really hope that we have as many as possible come to watch training and have lunch with us. After all, it’s their club.”

Hearts are sitting 12 points ahead of Hibs, with just one defeat in their last five. The last derby meeting ended in a goalless draw at Tynecastle when Jack Ross was still in the Easter Road hotseat. They prepared for the rematch with a 2-0 win against Motherwell while Hibs twice threw away a lead to lose 3-2 at home to Livingston.

Maloney believes there has been progress since his arrival despite the disappointment of Saturday.

He continued: “There have been definite signs of improvement in some areas but there was a 15-20 minute period in the second half against Livingston in which we lost control of the game.

“The difference in the game was defending two set-plays, and if we defended them correctly then I think the game could have been very, very different.

“But it's a big part of the game, and it will be a big part of the derby. I'm happy with the performances but when you lose a game you're always disappointed.

“I do understand where the team was when I took over, where they are now, and where I expect to be. This time next season I expect to be in a very different place.

“Hearts have been very, very strong this season and over the next 6-12 months it's my job to make sure that we narrow that gap and fight like hell to make sure we're fighting for that third spot next year.”

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