Lightning quick and terrifies defenders - what Hibs will be getting in Daniel Mackay
Daniel Mackay announced himself to a wider audience with his performance in Inverness CT’s deserved Scottish Cup win over rivals Ross County.
The most notable moment was his wonderful goal on the counter-attack. Caressing a lofted pass from David Carson into his path with his chest, as if made with the type of cushion you only find in the most elegant of hotels, before evading Charlie Lakin and Leo Hjelde in a similar manner to Kevin McCallister getting the better of the Wet Bandits and firing past Ross Laidlaw.
By that time, in the 54th minute of a 3-1 win in Dingwall, he had already nutmegged Iain Vigurs and produced a moment which may have had some eagle-eyed Hibs fans raise their eyebrows. Making a run from right to centre, behind the defence, he was slipped in by one of those revered Scott Allan reverse passes before scoring.
The goal was ruled out but the message had already been sent and received – Scott Allan x Daniel Mackay = DANGER.
It could become a common sight next season, with the Inverness winger set to join the playmaker at Easter Road.
When Allan is scheming in midfield, he wants players who are quick, direct and willing to make runs for him to find.
Handful and threat
That is Mackay down to a tee.
Interim Inverness boss Neil McCann said: “Daniel MacKay is lightning quick and I know speed terrifies defenders. When he shows it and believes in himself, he’s a real handful and a real threat.”
Pace is a commodity which, no matter which level, every team needs. Martin Boyle has shown time and time again just how destructive it can be for Hibs as he has forged himself into the best player outside Celtic and Rangers.
Mackay has similar qualities. He can play wide left or wide right. In both positions, he stretches the game, gets chalk on his boots, makes runs in behind. There is also a willingness to go from out to in, slip between defenders, using his pace to expose lacklustre defences.
The 20-year-old poses such a counter-attacking threat with most of his Inverness goals coming through his acceleration or pace.
Whether it was racing on to a long Mark Ridgers kick and lifting the ball over Raith Rovers goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald or collecting a pass at Somerset Park, bursting into the box to score against Ayr United.
With the ball, he wants to motor forward, take on players and use some traditional methods, standing a full-back up, knocking the ball in front of him and using that speed to get on to the ball and deliver.
In a defensive sense, there is work to be done but there is a determination and tenacity which should make improvement straightforward.
Mackay’s progress has been just as rapid across the past two seasons. He credits a loan spell with Elgin City last campaign as key to his development, getting a run of games and experience at "men's football” before returning to Inverness and staking a claim for a regular starting spot.
Both McCann and Inverness boss John Robertson have called for the player to have more belief in himself on the pitch.
Mackay has the talent and if he continues to believe in it, Hibs will be landing quite the player.