BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HIBERNIAN striker Simon Murray insists it was obvious that David Templeton had the quality to resurrect his career during the winger’s stint training with the Terrors.
The former Hearts and Rangers flyer arrived at Dundee United on trial in February following eight months out of the game and, while his fitness left plenty to be desired, Murray is adamant he still possessed the quick feet and intelligence which previously made him one of Scottish football’s brightest young talents.
Having failed to earn a contract at Tannadice, Templeton joined Hamilton and, after gradually finding his sharpness, is starting to show tantalising glimpses of his ability – most notably finding the net in Accies 2-0 victory over the Gers last weekend.
The Hibee hitman lauded: “When I was at Dundee United last year, he came in to train with the boys and you could see he was quick and had great feet – and he really looks like he is getting back to the level he was at when was flying and got his move to Rangers.
“You could see that he had great quality and he’s clever enough to drop into those wee pockets of space. He is a really good player and we definitely know that we’ll have a much better chance of winning if we find a way to stop him.
“We’ve been watching videos and we know what to expect on Saturday. However, we’ve got plenty of good players of our own that we know can damage them.
“Hamilton have been on a good run and beating Rangers was a great result for them. They are a very hard working team and, although they seem to be the favourites to go down every year, they seem to get better every year.
“We know it will be a tough game but if we play the way we can then there’s no reason we can’t win.”
Hibs’ trip to North Lanarkshire will give Murray an opportunity to exorcise ghosts of the past.
His last game at New Douglas Park was the second leg of last season’s promotion playoff, with his Dundee United side slipping to a 1-0 defeat and failing to secure a return to the Premiership at the first time of asking.
Despite a wonderful campaign – bagging 18 goals for Ray McKinnon’s men – it was a heartbreaking finale for a player who already knew his future lay elsewhere. Today, Murray aims to right some wrongs.
He continued: “That was a tough one to take, it was really hard at the time – but you just need to try to forget about it and move on. It was a bad end to the season but I’d like to think I’ve kicked on with Hibs and I’m looking forward to going back and hopefully putting that behind me.
“I desperately wanted to help Dundee United back into the Premiership, even though I knew I was coming to Hibs. It wasn’t the best day for the club, but it’s good to see them doing well this year.
“You learn every day in football, and that day was a big moment in my development. It could have went better but it went the opposite way. But you learn and grow – and that’s the best way to be.”
As well as overcoming a stubborn Accies side, Murray reckons the artificial surface at New Douglas Park will prove another challenge.
The former Tayport and Dundee Violet man added: “I’m not a fan [of plastic pitches]. The surfaces are not the best and I think the top league should be on grass. But that’s just the way it is. Some clubs, financially, benefit from it and that’s the way they run the club.
“But I’ve played on worse in the Juniors. That’s why I don’t moan too much – at least it won’t be a mudbath!”