RYAN McGOWAN has backed Aussie team-mate Jamie Maclaren to bang in the goals for Hibs – and insists he could even forgive him if he starts his scoring in Sunday’s Edinburgh derby.
Maclaren was also being tracked by Hearts but plumped for a loan move to Easter Road from German side Darmstadt 98 earlier this month as he bids to make the Australia squad for this summer’s World Cup finals.
McGowan knows the 24-year-old well from the Socceroos set-up and from tracking the marksman’s prolific progress with Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar back home.
He reckons Maclaren is just what Hibs need for the second half of the season – but hopes his countryman does not get off to a flying start in the Scottish Cup at Tynecastle this weekend.
The former Hearts defender, who lifted the cup with the Jambos in 2012, said: “It’s a good move for him in his situation. He had to get out and play regularly.
“I’m not sure how much interest he had from Hearts as well, but he decided to choose Hibs and I think he’ll do well there.
“But hopefully he doesn’t go out and score on his debut!
“Hibs are playing well at the moment. I watched the last derby and I thought in the first-half Hibs were very good.
“They’ve got good strikers already, so I hope Jamie doesn’t just think he can walk into Hibs and start playing regularly.
“But if he does get a start in the derby then I hope he plays reasonably well, but that Christophe Berra keeps him quiet and he doesn’t score.
“Then again, if he does score, he is a mate and I’m not playing for Hearts any more, so it might not be that bad!”
Maclaren failed to make an impact in Germany with Darmstadt this term but netted 19 times for Brisbane in the Australian A-League last season and scored 20 in 25 games the previous year.
McGowan has likened him to former Hibs striker Jason Cummings in his style and reckons the carrot of Maclaren trying to earn a place at the Word Cup finals in Russia could be hugely beneficial to Neil Lennon’s side.
McGowan added: “He’s more of a Jason Cummings type striker, in terms of his ability to be in the right place at the right time almost.
“A lot of the goals he scored in Australia looked quite simple but sometimes they’re the hardest goals for strikers to score – in terms of knowing where the ball’s going to drop and losing your defender.
“He was very prolific in Australia over a number of years. Sometimes strikers have one good season and then fade away, but for three seasons in a row he scored a good number of goals and he won the golden boot.
“He definitely knows where the back of the net is.
“With the World Cup coming up this summer, it will mean he’ll be fully focused on doing well for Hibs, which will help Hibs in their league campaign.
“I’m sure he’ll score a few goals for Hibs – hopefully just not on his debut!”