High stakes for Hibs' Kevin Nisbet as he lifts lid on Scotland and targets
By his own admission, the next six weeks for Hibs striker Kevin Nisbet are huge.
The 24-year-old won his first cap for Scotland last month and is aiming to be in Steve Clarke’s Scotland squad for this summer’s European Championships. Of more urgence, though, are his aspirations at club level. Sitting third in the Premiership with four games to go, Hibs are also in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals and Nisbet, their star striker, is also bidding to reach the 20-goal mark. It’s all to play for.
Nisbet notched his 16th strike of his maiden Hibs campaign in the 4-0 win over Stranraer on Sunday as the Capital club progressed to the last eight. It has been some season for the former Dunfermline, Raith Rovers and Partick Thistle hitman, with Nisbet also have to deal with the death of his father and a failed move to Birmingham City that resulted in a transfer request.
The unrest of January is now water under the bridge. Nisbet is finding his stride again and is desperate to have a successful end to the 2020/21 term.
"Ever since I came back from international duty I’ve felt fresh and sharp,” said Nisbet.
“I’m just trying to put in performances to put myself in the mind for Steve Clarke for the Euros coming up.
“It was a good experience with Scotland. It was an eye-opener on what the next level could be.
“It just makes me want to get to that next level but I need to come back to Hibs and perform and finish the season well.”
Nisbet took a lot out of being involved in the Scotland set-up. He came off the bench against the Faroe Islands and felt that he improved his game working with players who ply their trade in the English Premier League.
“You can never be too ready but I handled myself well in the Scotland setup and had some good feedback,” continued Nisbet.
“In training I fitted in well so I just need to keep going here and see where it takes me.
“You’re playing with Premier League players, English Championship players and players who play abroad.
“It’s a better standard, the balls into you are zipped in, you need to think quicker and you need to be sharper. I thought I handled myself really well so it’s down to me to get back into that setup.”
To do that, he will need to continue his excellent form at club level and maintain his devastating forward partnership with Martin Boyle and Christian Doidge in the remaining four league games and cup ties.
"It’s massive,” Nisbet said of the season’s run-in. “We’re third, big game Wednesday [against Livingston in the league] and we want to win the cup. I’ve been close a few times with semi-finals and you want to get further and bring the Scottish Cup back to Edinburgh. It’s rest, prepare, play right now.”
And on a personal level, Nisbet wants to hit the golden 20. “I’d say so,” added Nisbet. “There are a few games left so 20 is probably realistic.”
On current form, you would not bet against it.