Simon Murray: I want to stay and fight for my place at Hibs

Simon Murray celebrates after opening the scoring against Willem II
Simon Murray celebrates after opening the scoring against Willem II
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Hibs striker Simon Murray is not interested in making a shock move to Turkey, adamant he wants to stay and fight for his place at Easter Road.

Turkish top-flight club Elazigspor had a six-figure bid for the flame-haired hitman turned down by the Capital club earlier this week.

But while admitting it was something of a compliment, Murray, who is Hibs’ leading scorer having claimed 14 goals this season, has no interest in leaving a club he only joined last summer.

He said: “The gaffer pulled me into his office the other day and told me there had been an offer put in for me from a club in Turkey.

“It was a bit random but I am fully committed to Hibs. I don’t want to leave this club. It’s not really something I have been thinking about. I spoke to the manager and told him I wanted to stay and prove I could do the job here.

“The gaffer says it’s something I should take as a compliment but it is what it is. Teams look from all over and it’s nice to be noticed but I spoke with the manager and told him I want to stay here at Hibs and prove I can do the job.”.

It was, though, Murray admitted, a far cry from his days – not so long ago – when he was playing Junior football on Tayside.

“From Tayport to Turkey,” he joked. “That would be some journey but it is what it is. I am happy to be a Hibs player. I’m happy to be here. Why would I not be?”

In staying put, Murray is well aware he faces even greater competition for a place in Neil Lennon’s side, Australian internationalist Jamie Maclaren having arrived during this transfer window while teenager Oli Shaw has begun pushing for a regular starting 
place in the past couple of months.

Anthony Stokes has also hit double figures this season but the emergence of Shaw, a prolific scorer for the Hibs development squad, has pushed Murray down Lennon’s pecking order but the 25-year-old gave his manager a timely reminder of his potency in front of goal by putting Hibs ahead as they rounded up their week training in the Algarve with a match against Dutch side Willem II.

What was probably just as pleasing for him was the fact it was a trademark strike, being in the right place to turn home John McGinn’s volleyed cross from a glorious Dylan McGeouch ball which had spread-eagled the Dutch defence.

The former Dundee United player said: “You can’t go through a whole season on form. As a striker, that’s very hard. You get hot spells and cold spells. You need competition to push you – and you push them in return. Jamie Maclaren has arrived at the club and he’s scored a lot of goals in his career and he is also an international player for Australia.

“Young Oli came on in the cup semi-final against Celtic and he scored a goal. Any time he has been called upon he has done well for the team.

“I’ve been through a patch of scoring then not scoring and scoring again. That’s football. You just make sure you keep your head down, work hard and ensure you don’t get distracted.

“Hopefully, the competition pushes me on in my fight for the starting place – and that I am starting the next game against Hearts.”

And that, insisted Murray, was more important than the outcome of yesterday’s game, Hibs ultimately beaten 3-1 as the side from Tilburg scored three times in ten minutes despite, in Lennon’s estimation, Hibs having been the better team for the first hour of the game.

The Hibs boss said: “I was pleased, really pleased. Up until the substitutions we were the better team. I needed to make the changes to give everyone a run out.”

And, insisted Murray, there were mitigating factors at play. He said: “We’ve had a hard week in training after having five days off after the Kilmarnock game and were perhaps a bit rusty. It was good to get a goal but I should have scored a couple in the first half.

“The gaffer was not happy with the result. Nobody was because you never like losing but the performance was good, especially in the first half. It was a good run-out for us.

“The first few days over here in Portugal were really tough, double sessions every day so the boys, while looking fit, were perhaps a bit leggy. It’s been a hard week but we have a massive game coming up next Sunday as everyone knows.”

That game, of course, is the trip to face arch-rivals Hearts in the Scottish Cup for the third season in succession, Lennon’s side looking to protect a record in which they are unbeaten in their past nine matches against the Jambos.

Although he only made a late appearance from the bench the last time the two clashed – a no-scoring draw in Gorgie – Murray has nothing but happy memories of his first Edinburgh derby, scoring what turned out to be the winning goal after only three minutes.

He said: “That was definitely the highlight of my season. It was great to score a goal that early and for it to turn out to be the winner.

“The whole squad is buzzing for the derby and hopefully we can continue our good unbeaten run in the fixture.

“We could hear the Hibs fans singing about ten-in-a-row today. It’s been a good trip to Portugal for them and they are all buzzing for the derby too. Hopefully we can keep the smiles on their faces.”