‘Signing ex-Celtic striker Anthony Stokes can only make me a better player,’ insists Hibs’ Simon Murray

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SIMON MURRAY is convinced he can be spurred on to become a better player by the return to Hibs of Anthony Stokes.

Stokes was given a hero’s reception as he made his third debut for the Easter Road club in the final 20 minutes of Saturday’s 3-1 win over Partick Thistle.

But it was Murray who was awarded the sponsors’ man-of-the-match accolade after taking his tally since joining from Dundee United to an impressive eight with his second-half penalty.

Stokes was given a rousing welcome back to Hibs when he came on as a late substitute

And the 25-year-old believes the stiff competition provided by Stokes and new signing Deivydas Matulevicius can keep him on the goal trail as Neil Lennon’s men prepare for Tuesday night’s Betfred Cup tie against Ayr United.

He said: “We’ve got a strong squad. It makes you perform better because you know there’s someone there waiting to come and take your place.

“We had someone like Anthony Stokes to bring on in the second-half.

“It will make me a better player and I’m looking forward to working with my fellow strikers as well.

“I definitely see it a positive rather than a threat because when you have quality around you then the pressure’s maybe not solely on you to score.

“We’ve got firepower through the team. The better the team is, the more chance I’ve got of scoring goals.

“I don’t really see it as being a case of me being the man in possession. I like to score goals and I like to work hard for the team.

“I feel as though I add other things to the team. If I keep playing well, hopefully I’ll keep playing.”

ATMOSPHERE

Murray has already eclipsed the season’s best of seven managed by dad Gary, who played up front for Hibs in the 1980s.

And, having begun his career in the Junior ranks with Tayport and Dundee Violet, he admits he is loving life at the capital club.

With Rangers next up in the league next weekend, Murray added: “That’s what you dream of when you’re playing as a kid. You want to play in front of a crowd like that.

“It’s an unbelievable atmosphere and I’m loving playing at Easter Road.

“We’ve another big game on Tuesday because we want to go a long way in the League Cup.

“I am buzzing to go and play Rangers. I’ve never played at Ibrox before. I don’t think we’ve got anything to fear and we can afford to give it a go. I’m looking forward to it.”

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