BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
LEWIS ALLAN insists he is not overawed by the challenge of deputising for Swiss striker Flo Kamberi as the Hibs youngster vowed to grasp his last chance to establish himself at Easter Road.
The 21-year-old was handed his first ever start for the capital club in their last Premiership outing against Livingston and, despite Neil Lennon’s men succumbing to a 2-1 defeat, the powerful forward gained plaudits for a bright showing.
Kamberi faces a race against time to face Kilmarnock this weekend as he battles back from a persistent knee complaint that has seen him miss outings against Ross County, Aberdeen and Livi.
Allan said: “The manager spoke to me before the Livingston game and said ‘I think you’re ready’. He wanted me to do what Flo [Kamberi] does and try and be that target man. I did that and he was pleased with me – so hopefully I get more chances. All you want is a chance.
“The squad is very thin and we can’t sign anybody until January. There will be injuries and suspensions, so there should be chances to play if I’m doing well during the week.
“Just training with Flo and watching him in games, you try and take bits from him. I think it definitely helps having someone like him at the club because he’s someone I can learn from. But I won’t shy away from coming in for him when needed, I enjoyed it.”
Remarkably, his outing in West Lothian came more than three years after his maiden appearance for Hibs, as an early substitute for the injured Dominique Malonga in a breathless 6-2 Challenge Cup defeat against Rangers in July 2015.
Allan readily admits he was ready to give up on his Easter Road dream last season, which included a disappointing loan spell with Edinburgh City in League Two, however a parental pep-talk allied with some fine showing for Hibs’ Development Squad turned his fortunes around.
He was rewarded for his progress with a one-year deal in the summer and Allan, who was sidelined for 10 months between 2015 and 2016 due to a spinal cyst, knows this is a do-or-die campaign.
He continued: “Last year it was looking like I was going to be leaving Hibs. I was on loan [at Edinburgh City] and wasn’t playing, but then I came back, did well and was on the bench a few times at the end of last season.
“I started to think ‘if I do well here, I’ve still got a chance’ and the manager has proved that already by putting me in against Livingston.
“It was probably my mum and dad, Sandra and Craig, who were the biggest influence in things turning for me. They kept saying ‘look, you can still change the manager’s opinion’. I was saying ‘no chance!’ But they kept at me.
“A few boys left towards the end of the window and I knew Flo was injured as well so I thought ‘there’s a wee chance here’.
“I’ve got a year left on my contract. I’m 21. I missed a year through injury so, in terms of my development, I’m probably only 20 – but this is definitely a chance I’ve got to take if I’m to make it at Hibs.”