Why Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom expects more from Melker Hallberg
Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom expects more to come from Melker Hallberg after the Swedish midfielder was pitched straight into action despite having not played for more than four months.
The Easter Road head coach insisted the 24-year-old “deserved a lot of credit” for keeping himself in shape before arriving in Edinburgh on a three-year deal.
The former Udinese player made his debut only a fortnight later, and has admitted his legs were now feeling “pretty heavy” after last week’s punishing schedule of three games in six days, culminating in the weekend draw with Celtic.
Hallberg has yet to complete a full match for Hibs, conceding the last ten minutes were not yet there although he believes he’s now nearing full fitness with his last game before his switch to Scotland having been for Danish side Vejle BK at the end of April.
Heckingbottom, though, has been impressed by his efforts, saying: “Melker looked after himself tremendously well before we got the deal done. You can see that, he has been able to come in and play games.
“He didn’t have a pre-season with us, he had to have his first football in our first team and has now come through three games in six days. So we are delighted with him, for him. It shows good professionalism.
“I am expecting more to come from him. He has had to find his feet in the first team in some big games so I am expecting more from him as he settles in.”
And Hallberg himself believes there is more to come, telling Hibs TV: “I am getting there, to my normal fitness so I’ll keep working.”
Meanwhile, Glenn Middleton believes Hibs have turned a corner having secured a place in the semi-finals of the Betfred Cup before becoming the first side to take a point off champions Celtic this week.
The on-loan Rangers winger said: “We have shown we can do it and show that’s what needs to be done to get us the results this season. We have shown we can compete and that we should be about pushing on.
“We have addressed a couple of things and in the last couple of games we’ve all been digging in for each other.
“I’ve learned a lot myself in the last couple of weeks, that chasing back and winning the ball off your man is sometimes near enough as important as scoring a goal or creating one. It’s the momentum of getting us up pitch and stopping them doing that as well.”