Simon Murray believes his debut-day double is a sign of things to come, the striker confident his new Hibs team-mates will carve out plenty of opportunities for him to score goals this season.
Murray was delighted to have scored twice as Hibs defeated Montrose 4-0 in their opening Betfred Cup match but reckons he could easily have doubled his tally.
However, the fact he didn’t hasn’t caused him any loss of sleep, the 25-year-old, scorer of 18 goals for Dundee United last season, believing that as he gets sharper and with the help of those around him, his name will feature regularly on the scoresheet.
Murray will go looking to add to his early tally against Ross County in Dingwall tonight, adamant the more he can get, the harder it will be for boss Neil Lennon to overlook him, despite his manager adding further firepower to his side with the surprise arrival of Lithuanian internationalist Deivydas Matulevicius.
And rather than worry about the prospect of greater competition, Murray is relishing it. He said: “It was brilliant to get off the mark with those two goals against Montrose with it being the first game, the start of a new season. As a striker it’s always important to do that as quickly as possible so I was glad to do it immediately.
“I could have had a couple more but it’s still early days and we’ve not really worked on one-on-one finishing. I think I showed the fans a wee bit of what I am about.
“Goals are obviously the most important thing but before that you have to work hard to get yourself into those positions which is something I always do.
“I thought there were times last season when I was making the runs but not getting the ball, but the quality of players in our squad, the Swansons, the McGinns, the McGeouchs, the Boyles, means service will come from all over and, if I can keep getting into those positions, then the goals will come.”
Along with his team-mates, Murray met 28-year-old Matulevicius for the first time at their East Mains training ground yesterday, admitting he’d been as intrigued as anyone else as to who Lennon might add to his squad.
He said: “You do get a bit excited, you want to see who it is. I’m a bit different to David, he is more a target man, a bigger guy. At the end of the day, you want good, strong competition in the team because it makes you a better player and hopefully I will thrive on that.
“But if you are playing well and scoring goals it’s in your own hands. The manager picks the team, but he is going to pick a striker who is scoring goals. So if I can just concentrate on the way I am playing then hopefully it will be me he picks.”
Murray will find himself reacquainted with his former United team-mate Thomas Mikkelsen tonight, the Danish striker who finds himself trying to fill the void left by the departure of County’s top scorer Liam Boyce just as Murray attempts to fill the boots of Jason Cummings.
Like Murray, Mikkelsen is also already off the mark, scoring twice as the Staggies demolished Montrose 6-0 in midweek having beaten Alloa Athletic in their opening game.
And the Hibs man believes tonight’s encounter will give Lennon’s players the opportunity to assess exactly where they stand as they prepare to return to the Premiership following an absence of three years.
He said: “Tam’s a great guy, I wish him all the best – but hope he has a stinker tonight.
“Ross County have been doing well in recent years in the top flight so this gives us a chance to draw some comparisons but there’s no reason why, if we play well, we cannot get the result.”
The new group format for the Betfred Cup has divided opinion, a quirk of the system meaning promoted Hibs are in the only section which boasts two Premiership sides.
Murray admitted he, too, is a bit undecided. “You don’t get much time off to recover from last season but the other side of it is you get more competitive games.
“Friendlies tend not to be so high tempo so you are straight into it and for a guy who wants to get his goal tally up, it’s a good thing the season is starting early.”
Murray and United made the quarter-finals last season, the striker scoring four goals as they did so, only to lose to Morton.
This season, obviously, he’s hoping to go two stages further and, although Lennon believes the competition has come too early – he’s using the games as part of Hibs’ pre-season preparations – he, too, wants to make a go of it.
The Hibs manager, however, insisted no-one should read too much into the outcome of tonight’s match. “It’s too early. If we lose the game, it’s not going to be a week of analysing it. It will be a good test, yes, but the team I play might not be anywhere near the team that starts the season.
“We’ve got players like [Steven] Whittaker and [Efe] Ambrose who haven’t had any football yet and need to play. Some other guys have not played 90 minutes and I’m sure Jim [McIntyre, County’s manager] is in the same boat as me. But it is a game you want to win.
“Last season, Ross County were the holders and they went out in the group stage because they were nowhere near ready. Maybe they have stepped it up this year and want to make a go of it. We do. We want to get out of the group but it is not a barometer for the season, it’s too early for that.
“It we lose it won’t be the be-all and end-all, but you want to play well, play strongly and take a step in the right direction as to where you want to be on August 5.”