Kevin Nisbet can bounce back from injury and be best striker in the league, says Hibs boss Shaun Maloney
Shaun Maloney has backed Kevin Nisbet to come back from injury ‘better and stronger’, with the Hibs striker facing seven to nine months on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on his knee.
Speaking ahead of Hibs’ Scottish Cup quarter-final against Motherwell on Sunday, Maloney insisted the 24-year-old is positive and eager to start the recovery process.
“Kevin had surgery on Thursday and it went well. It’s an ACL and that injury tends to take seven to nine months.
“I know from speaking to Kevin he is very motivated, if Scotland qualify for the World Cup, to make it back to push for that squad.
“I love the fact he is speaking about trying to make the squad if and when Scotland do hopefully get there.
“It should be a big motivation for him to get back in time and to show everyone he is coming back a better player.
“We’ll try and support him as much as possible and be there every step of the way because at times it can be a lonely journey.”
Revealing that he had travelled to London to meet with Nisbet before he went under the knife, Maloney added: “It’s been a little period since the Celtic game where he suffered the injury, so he was at a stage where he was positive and eager to get the surgery and start his rehab.
“It’s a really difficult injury but Kevin is very positive about coming back a better player. We’ve all seen players before do this, where they have had a major injury or a big setback and have come back a better player.
“That has to be Kevin’s motivation; that he comes back with the mindset to become the best striker in the league. From working with him for a couple of months he’s definitely got attributes that can take him to that level.
“It will take a lot of work, but I think that has to be Kevin’s motivation.”
Nisbet himself posted a positive message on social media on Friday, writing: “Just returning from London where top knee specialist Andy Williams operated on my left knee.
"He’s delighted with the way the op went and is sure I’ll be back stronger and better than ever.
"It’s a massive disappointment that I won’t be able to help the manager and my team-mates in the final matches of this season but I know they’ll do everything possible to make sure our fans have something to celebrate.
"I’m in a bit of pain, which is to be expected, but I’m already focused on what needs done during rehabilitation. I can assure everyone that I will be back as quickly as possible and ready to do my best for both Hibs and Scotland.”
As for Nisbet’s contract situation, Maloney said: “I imagine it will be something the club will discuss. From my point of view I’d be happy to do anything to support him.
“I inherited a difficult situation with Kevin but the commitment he has shown me on and off the pitch has only been positive.
"We will do all we can to support him in the next seven to nine months.”