Hibs striker Oli Shaw keen to put marker down for next season

Oli Shaw has been disappointed with his goals tally this season despite bagging some important strikes
Oli Shaw has been disappointed with his goals tally this season despite bagging some important strikes
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Oli Shaw may well be falling short of his target of taking his goals tally into double figures this season.

But even so, the young striker can look back with a degree of satisfaction on the seven he has scored, a number of them having proved invaluable as Hibs clinched a top-six finish for the second season in succession.

A late equaliser against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park, the only goal of the game at Hamilton which ended a run of seven winless matches, and scoring the first as Hibs came from behind to beat St Mirren in Paisley stand out, each earning precious points.

“Yes, I’ve scored some important goals,” said the 20-year-old, “But the downside for me is that I haven’t got more.

“I set myself a target of trying to get into double figures this season as something to aim for, to better myself. It’s not quite happened so with one game to go a hat-trick would be nice ...”

Given that he has found game-time hard to come by lately, having invariably been used in cameo appearances as a substitute, Shaw conceded such a scenario against Aberdeen on Sunday would be an unlikely fairytale but, having bettered last season’s total of five goals in 22 outings, he believes his career is moving forward.

He said: “I think it’s been steady progress but, as a striker, you want to score goals and the more the better. Obviously at the start of the season I was playing quite regularly but then it came to a bit of a halt which was frustrating.

“At the end of the day, you are a young boy and you have to bide your time, but I want to play football.”

The ten-match unbeaten run which Hibs enjoyed as new head coach Paul Heckingbottom took over from Neil Lennon had, admitted Shaw, limited his chances of a regular starting place, particularly with Marc McNulty arriving on loan from Reading and enjoying such form he earned himself a couple of Scotland caps.

Shaw said: “It was the first time I’d been through that sort of thing, a change of manager, but we’ve got a great bunch of lads who had experienced it before. That sort of thing is going on in the background but it didn’t really affect us to much or me personally. I just got on with my job and got ready for the new manager coming in.

“I’ve had a few chats with him but when the team is doing well you have to bide your time. We were on a good roll and you don’t really change a winning team. We’d had a good start to the season, had that blip towards Christmas for whatever reason and then got that spark with the change of manager.

“So you work on things on the training pitch to get into the team and what he wants when you do get in the team. The lack of game time has been frustrating but you take it on the chin and when the opportunity comes along you try to take it.”

Shaw has alternated between sitting on the bench and playing for the development squad as they took on Middlesbrough’s Under-23s and Huddersfield Town’s Under-20s, games which he enjoyed.

He said: “I’ve been getting minutes under my belt. If you are just training and not playing you lose that match sharpness a wee bit so I’ve enjoyed playing against good opposition.

“The only thing is that I didn’t score. But I enjoyed the challenges and, at the end of the day, I am a football player and I want to play football.”

Shaw still has two years of his contract to run but next season will be a big one for him as he seeks to pin down that elusive regular place in the first team, a task which could be made all the more difficult over the summer as manager Heckingbottom looks to revamp the squad he inherited from Lennon.

He said: “The manager has said previously he will try to bring in a few players. That’s for him to deal with, I’ll be focused on myself, being fit, strong and ready to kick on.

“Every season is massive, you want to come back pre-season and put your marker down.”

Hibs are due back for pre-season training on June 20 so, revealed Shaw, while he’ll enjoy a sunshine holiday, he’ll continue to keep himself in trim.

He said: “We’ve been back around that time in each of the four seasons I’ve been involved. I’ll rest up but also do some work. The sports scientists give us plans to take away with us so I’ll be doing the bits and pieces to come back flying.”

Before then, however, Shaw and his team-mates are faced with trying to make up for that “rubbish” performance at Kilmarnock against an Aberdeen side also chasing a place in the Europa League.

He said: “Last weekend was not good enough but this is the final game of the season, in front of our own fans and against a side we’ve had good matches with all season.

“We have to look to go into the game full of energy, put on a show for the supporters who have backed us all season and send them away on holiday happy.”