Oli Shaw is the in-form striker at Easter Road and deserves his run in the side, writes Neil McGlade
He’s been by no means the first on Neil Lennon’s team sheet this season. In fact, stats show Oli Shaw has only started five of Hibs’ 16 league fixtures. However, with Florian Kamberi and Jamie Maclaren still to recapture the form that earned the duo so many plaudits last season, the Scotland Under-21 internationalist has had to bide his time. Nevertheless, he's been afforded his chance this past week, and rightly so.
Although Hibs supporters have been pining for the Kamberi-Maclaren partnership to burst the net, the few games the Swiss and Australian have started up top has fallen flat on its face. In truth, both players look short on confidence with Kamberi, in particular, coming in for criticism from assistant Garry Parker following the midweek 2-2 stalemate with St Mirren.
It’s been easy to gloss over the fact that Shaw netted in the opening game of the season, a 3-0 win over Motherwell before cancelling out Tony Watt’s first-half opener to earn Hibs a point at McDiarmid Park just a week later. He also scored in the Europa League tie against Faroes outfit NSI Runavik.
But given the 17-goal return that Kamberi and Maclaren amassed during the second half of last season, they are still likely to be Lennon’s preferred pairing despite a disappointing season so far.
Shaw is the club’s striker in form at this moment in time. Kamberi hasn’t found the net since the 4-2 defeat to Celtic in October while Maclaren’s only goal of the season came in the 1-1 draw with Aberdeen in August. To be fair the 25-year-old’s season has been hampered by injury.
Shaw can do no more at this moment in time. Two starts and two goals. His winner against Hamilton yesterday was an astute finish, as was his second-half leveller against St Mirren on Wednesday night. As for Lennon, if it isn’t broken don’t fix it. Goals have been few and far between these past few weeks for an underperforming Hibs side.
With champions Celtic next up this weekend, Lennon will have no qualms about unleashing Shaw against the likes of Filip Benkovic or Jozo Simunovic. Let’s not forget he breached the Celtic goal twice last season.
Confidence is pivotal to a striker’s game and Shaw deserves his run in the side. Let’s see where it takes him.