Strikers have changed but Oli Shaw’s goal remains the same

Oli Shaw scores to make it 1-1 against Kilmarnock at Easter Road in December
Oli Shaw scores to make it 1-1 against Kilmarnock at Easter Road in December
Have your say

Anthony Stokes and Simon Murray have gone, replaced by Jamie Maclaren and Florian Kamberi. But, as far as Hibs striker Oli Shaw is concerned, nothing has changed.

The target for the 19-year-old remains the same, battling to force his way into Neil Lennon’s plans – and then staying there.

Shaw has already had a taste of it, scoring a clutch of goals which have helped drive Hibs into fourth place in the Ladbrokes Premiership table with the hope they may yet go on and challenge Rangers and Aberdeen for that runners-up spot behind Celtic.

Recently he’s found first-team action a little more difficult to secure although he remains very much a part of Lennon’s matchday squad. But he’s simply carried on doing what he does best, scoring the goals which have put Hibs Under-20s on track for a league and cup double.

Shaw claimed his “16th or 17th” strike for the development squad in this week’s 4-1 victory over St Johnstone to drive them five points clear at the top of the SPFL Development League while the youngsters also have their eyes on revenge for last season’s semi-final defeat by Celtic in the SFA Youth Cup after again drawing the Hoops in the penultimate round this term.

Obviously, though, his ultimate aim is to cement his place in Lennon’s long-term plans.

He said: “We’ve still got the same number of strikers as beforehand and that doesn’t affect or faze me. Hibs is a massive club and there will always be people wanting to come here and play.

“There will always be speculation about players coming or going but I’ll just keep working hard with the development squad.

“Being a striker, there’s always pressure to get goals. Two have left and we’ve brought two in to replace them but I am still here and fighting for my place. I am young and want to get into that first team and playing regularly.”

He may, clearly, be regarded as third choice behind Maclaren and Kamberi, the new arrivals having formed an immediate partnership up front as Hibs have made it four wins from their past five games, but Shaw, while happy to glean what he can from that pairing, insists that in the end it will be goals that count.

He said: “I think it always depends on form. Jamie and Flo are doing well at the minute. I have to be patient, work as hard as before when my chance came and I took it. Hopefully, that will come around again.

“You can look at these guys and learn. Stokesy played at the highest level and Simon worked his way through by a different route. Jamie is an international striker wanting to go to the World Cup with Australia while Flo has Under-21 experience and, obviously, coming from Switzerland, brings a different style of play, so you look to pick up wee bits from all of them.”

But, revealed Shaw, his early game was fashioned by watching dvds of Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. He said: “I was an Arsenal fan growing up and I was lucky enough to see him live. He was quick, skilful and liked to play on the shoulder and score goals like me.

“I’ve got a stack of dvds of him and Arsenal because I have a pal who used to be a season ticket holder and he gave them to me. I used to look at them a lot but I tend not to do so as much now as I am in here focusing on working hard and trying to be the best I can.”

Shaw has no trouble switching between the first-team squad and the development side. He spent last Saturday sitting on the bench at a sold-out Easter Road as Lennon’s side demolished Aberdeen before facing Saints at Kelty Hearts’ New Central Park and he is today preparing for tomorrow’s trip to face Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

He said: “A game of football is a game of football. If it’s in front of ten people and a dog or a crowd of 40,000 or whatever it doesn’t bother me, I will play my game and try to score goals. I just enjoy playing football.

“If it’s for the first team I look to do my best for the manager, the boys and the fans. If it’s for the Under-20s to do well for [coaches] Eddie May and Grant Murray, the team and myself.

“I’ve got 16 or 17 goals for the development squad so I want to keep going as I got a few more last year. We’ve got eight or nine games to go, are clear at the top of the table and fighting on two fronts with the cup semi to also look forward to.

“We’ve spoken about the double because we were disappointed last year not to get anything from it having been top of the league for the majority of the season and knocked out in the semi by Celtic – so we want to put that right.”

As far as the first team are concerned, there’s plenty going right at the moment, Lennon’s players travelling to Ayrshire knowing that this could be a big weekend in terms of Premiership points with Hearts visiting Ibrox later in the day while league leaders Celtic take on Aberdeen at Pittodrie on 

Acknowledging that Kilmarnock are the Premiership’s form team at the moment, Steve Clarke’s side having hauled themselves into the top six with two games to spare on the sides ahead of them while boasting a record of seven straight wins on their own artificial pitch, Shaw said: “Killie are doing well but we put in a good performance there the last time when we won 3-0 back in October and we’ll be hoping for more of the same.

“We’re on a good run of form ourselves, we’ve had back-to-back wins over Rangers and Aberdeen so we’ll be going into the game with confidence. On our day, we feel we can beat anyone.

“With our game being the early kick-off we can put a bit of pressure on the other teams around us if we win, we’ll have them looking over their shoulders at us.

“If they don’t, then we can take advantage of that but it’s a case of focusing on ourselves, doing our best to take the three points and if we do then the rest will take care of itself.

“We’re an attack-minded team, we go out to score goals. We’ve got two solid centre-backs, full-backs who like to get forward and we have pace and power.

“And with the players we have in the middle of the park you know as a striker you are always going to get chances with the likes of Scott Allan, John McGinn and Dylan McGeouch behind you.

“You saw that against Aberdeen last week although we maybe didn’t score as many as we wanted to.