Hibernian manager Jack Ross has told star striker Kevin Nisbet he will need to dip deep in order to get back on the goal trail.
The 24-year-old struck 18 times last term but has managed only four so far this season and just two in the opening 11 cinch Premiership games.
The Scotland attacker has netted just once in his last eight matches for Hibs and was substituted by Ross with 14 minutes left of Wednesday’s 3-1 home defeat to Celtic.
The manager is confident Nisbet will soon return to form if he shows the required “work ethic”.
Ross said: “That’s one of the very few times I’ve substituted Kevin. I don’t think there’s any repetition in that.
“It was based on us getting fresh attacking players into the game and Jamie Gullan has been good recently in training and deserved his opportunity.
“It will come for Kevin. He’s in one of those runs that strikers find difficult but he has to work his way through it as well.
“He’s got to produce a work ethic on the pitch that will get him into positions where he will start scoring goals again.”
Hibs fans turned on their team during an abject first-half performance against Celtic, with boos raining down from the stands as Ross’ side suffered a fourth-consecutive defeat.
The manager said: “Criticism comes in the wake of poor runs, which we’re in at the moment, but I think supporters should direct it at me. It’s my team, my responsibility, my preparation, my direction.
“The players need the supporters to be behind them at this moment, while they’re in this run, so any frustration or disappointment in the stadium or other forums should be directed at me.
“Support the players and give them that backing because they’re good enough to come out of this run. They’ve shown that for the best part of a year and a half now.”
Ross believes Hibs can take some encouragement from their improved second-half performance into Saturday’s trip to Ross County.
He said: “The first half was way below where we need to be at. It was a challenge for the players at half-time and I think they responded.
“There are two arguments. People will say ‘it’s easy to play when you’re goals behind’, which is fair, but equally it’s not easy playing against a good team when you’re goals behind, and that was the case for us against Celtic.
“It could have gone one of two ways. It could have been a really, really bad night for us or it could have been one where we produced a second-half performance that gives us encouragement for Saturday.”
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