Shaun Maloney juggling managing expectations and encouraging Hibs man of the moment Elias Melkersen
Shaun Maloney admits he is caught between managing expectations around man of the moment Elias Melkersen, and continuing to push the Norwegian teenager for Hibs’ benefit.
The 19-year-old was handed his first start in the Easter Road side’s 2-1 Scottish Cup quarter-final victory over Motherwell, scoring after 15 minutes and again on 37 minutes as he impressed in just his third appearances for the club.
Melkersen came close to a first-half hat-trick when he just failed to connect with Chris Mueller’s cross from the left and although he unsurprisingly tired in the second half, he left the pitch to a standing ovation from the away end and was unsurprisingly named man of the match.
With Kevin Nisbet sidelined until later this year after undergoing surgery on an ACL injury, Hibs will be relying more on Melkersen and fellow striker Christian Doidge in the Scotland internationalist’s absence.
Maloney said: “It’s difficult, we probably want to manage expectations, but on the other hand we also want to keep working like we have been with him and keep pushing him.
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“I know we’re going to rely on him a lot with Kevin’s injury. He had a brilliant first start, he took his two goals brilliantly, and they were very different.”
The former Bodø/Glimt youngster earned another call-up to the Norway Under-20 side ahead of the upcoming international break and will hope to add to his tally for his country, and the Hibs boss has no qualms about throwing him in from the start again at Pittodrie.
“I’d love to try and manage expectation but at the same time he’s a young kid and you don’t want to hold him back,” Maloney added.
“It’s going to be a very different game against Aberdeen, it will be a big test again – but if he’s selected I’ll be quite excited to see how he plays.
“Aberdeen try to defend very, very high. I know their two centre-backs try to be very aggressive, but if Elias can continually try to threaten in behind then it does change how they can defend.
“That’s one of his big attributes, consistently trying to run in behind. It does give us a different dynamic, and it will be needed again this weekend.”