Reports on Thursday suggested the Easter Road side had prioritised the signing of another attacker, but the Evening News understands that there are no immediate plans to source another player capable of playing out wide.
In his two matches in charge so far Shaun Maloney has started with a 3-4-1-2 formation and changed to a 3-4-3 in the latter stages, bringing on Jamie Murphy – who, it should be noted, indirectly affected the winning goal against Aberdeen, and made the points safe against Dundee United at Tannadice with a well-taken goal.
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Scott Allan has also played on the left while new signing Elias Melkersen can also operate out wide too. James Scott is another, as is Chris Mueller.
Stevie Bradley, Martin Boyle, and Chris Cadden are also options for playing on the flank. So while Mackay’s departure has left Hibs a man down in the wide areas, eight players would appear to be more than enough for a manager who may not even require all that many wide players.
If Maloney continues playing with wingbacks then Josh Doig and Lewis Stevenson can also play a role on the left.
Plagued by a troublesome ankle injury, Mackay has only played six times for Hibs since joining from Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Only Nathan Wood has made fewer appearances for the Hibs first team so far this term. Of Mackay’s six run-outs, three came in Europe – as did his one goal – and the other three were substitute appearances totalling 25 minutes, including a brief cameo against loan side Kilmarnock in the League Cup.
With just 20 combined minutes of Scottish Premiership action, it is perhaps understandable that Hibs sent Mackay on loan to get him back up to speed – particularly to a team with a number of youngsters and a manager skilled at bringing through youthful talent.
The five-sub rule
With five subs being brought back in for the second half of the season, benches will be larger with nine substitutes required in addition to the 11 men on the park. Had Mackay stayed then he would be in contention for one of those spots, but he may get more gametime at Kilmarnock and on top of that his place on the Hibs bench could be taken by a player able to fill more positions.
Maloney may feel a player like Elias Melkersen or James Scott, both of whom can play anywhere across the front three, would be more useful to have in reserve.
Hibs sending Mackay to a club chasing promotion, that are currently the top scorers in the division, should mean that the arrangement suits all parties. The player gets more gametime, Kilmarnock get a young footballer keen to make an impression and potentially nab a league-winner’s medal, and Hibs can rest in the knowledge that a young Scottish prospect is improving ahead of his return to Easter Road in the summer.
All being well, come the end of the season Hibs should get back a player with more experience who has progressed, evolved, and is ready to push for a first-team place.