HIBS head coach Jack Ross has hailed Stevie Mallan’s strength of character after the midfielder converted a gilt-edged penalty on his return from injury.
Mallan cast aside seven months of frustration Sunday when he scored a 90th-minute spot-kick against St Johnstone to earn the capital club a hard-fought 1-0 victory.
It was the 24-year-old’s first senior appearance since suffering a knee injury in Hibs’ 2-0 triumph over Hearts last December. The issue subsequently required surgery and has resulted in a wretched 2020 for Mallan.
So Ross has nothing but praise for the impact the talented playmaker made for the high-flying Hibees at the weekend.
Ross said: “Last week was probably the first week where he has really felt good in training. It’s the first time we’ve really had him at our disposal, albeit he was on the bench for the previous game.
“I felt like I could go to him on Sunday and I’m delighted for him.
“He’s got a little way to go in terms of getting back to match speed but I told him to go on and win the game for us. I didn’t believe it would be in that manner.
“However, that [penalty] just shows his character, to take a penalty at that decisive moment in a game.”
Mallan’s moment of composure saw Hibs keep pace with Rangers at the summit of the Premiership, with the watertight capital club still to concede a goal from open play this term.
However, Ross has dismissed any notion that his modest charges could get carried away with their start to the season. Indeed, he reckons they should have more swagger.
He told Hibs TV: “Our group here is so humble that, if anything, I need to keep building them up.
“There will be no issues with them getting carried away with their achievements to date. We’ll rest, recover and be good to go for the Aberdeen match on Sunday.”
INTERNATIONAL FRUSTRATION FOR CHRISTIAN DOIDGE
Meanwhile, Easter Road marksman Christian Doidge has been overlooked for a place in Ryan Giggs’ latest Wales squad.
The 28-year-old has scored 18 goals in his last 28 games dating back to last season and Giggs revealed in February that Doidge was firmly on his radar.
However, the former Forest Green Rovers and Bolton striker been snubbed for next month’s Nations League fixtures against Finland and Bulgaria.
Kieffer Moore, Tyler Roberts and Hal Robson-Kanu were given the nod ahead of him in Wales’ attacking pool.