IT MAY seem like Scott Allan has developed an instantaneous understanding with Marc McNulty but the mercurial midfielder has revealed their rapport is more than a year in the making.
Allan looks set to thrive following McNulty’s arrival in the Hibernian line-up, with the striker’s intelligent movement and desire to run in behind proving manna from heaven for one of the most proficient pickers of passes in Scotland.
That was illustrated superbly when McNulty scampered onto a perfect Allan through-ball to open the scoring in Wednesday night’s 3-0 triumph over Ross County. The on-loan Reading marksman is already on four goals in two starts.
However, the Hoops would not allow him to leave and he spent the final six months of his deal in cold storage while McNulty was rippling the net with regularity in Leith. Little wonder, then, he appears keen to make up for lost time.
“When I was hoping to get here [to Hibs] in January last season, playing with Marc was one of the things I was really looking forward to – but it wasn’t to be,” recalled Allan. “So I’ve had to wait a year. Now, the partnership feels natural.
“It’s all about how he plays: he’s on the shoulder, ready to go and as soon as I get the ball I can look up and know where he’s going to be.
“I even had a couple of chances to put him through after the first goal the other night – he went and I didn’t play it, so it will get better too.
“I’ve known him for a long time, I know his style of play and know that it suits mine.”
“From holidays in Ibiza!” laughs Allan. “No, I’ve just known him since I was 18 and always spoken to him.”
From sunning themselves in Spain to the gusting gales of Storm Dennis, the duo will be charged with blowing away a resurgent Kilmarnock on Sunday afternoon.
The Rugby Park outfit have racked up three successive victories and, should they build on their memorable 2-1 win over Rangers in midweek with another victory, they will leapfrog Hibs into the top-six.
“It’s going to be tough but we’re really confident,” continued Allan. “It’s going to be big for both teams.
“When we played Killie at Easter Road [2-2 draw in November], we dominated for long spells and should have won so hopefully we get the win on Sunday.”
POTTER: STRIKE DUO MUST KEEP PERFORMING TO MAKE INTERNATIONAL DREAMS COME TRUE
The final prong in a fearsome trio in the final third is Christian Doidge, whose clinical header against County in midweek was his 14th goal in his last 18 games; 16 for the campaign.
It seems astonishing that he was being written off as another of Paul Heckingbottom’s errant signings earlier this term after failing to find the net in his first nine Premiership fixtures for the club.
Doidge now seems a shoo-in for Ryan Giggs’ Wales squad for the friendlies against Austria and the U.S. next month, while McNulty – capped twice last year – could yet play himself into contention for Scotland’s Euro 2020 playoff against Israel.
“That [international recognition] would be great but they’ll only get that from continuing to perform here,” said Hibs assistant head coach John Potter.
“Marc’s just come in and he has started well but he must continue to do that. We made that clear to him and hopefully he does.
“Christian has now done well for a period of time with us, he has scored a lot of goals and has been quite consistent in his performances.
“And all these guys can do is continue to score goals and let other people make decisions on how they are doing.
“Between the two of them, they have a little bit of everything.
“They both have goals in them but they are very different players. Christian is more about getting in the box, he is good in the air, strong and awkward to play against – plus he’s a good finisher.
“Marc plays off people and runs in behind. He plays in little spaces. Hopefully they keep combining.”