Jack Ross believes Kyle Magennis is fired up by the prospect of becoming a star for Hibernian – not getting one over on his old Buddies when he faces St Mirren on Wednesday night.
Magennis is set to come up against his former club for the first time since making his move along the M8 back in the summer.
The 22-year-old had an association with Saints stretching back 17 years but left St Mirren boss Jim Goodwin distraught when he made it clear he saw his future in Edinburgh.
Magennis got his wish but admits to being left with a bitter taste in his mouth after Saints chose to release a statement insisting he had pushed for a transfer.
The former Scotland Under-21 ace will now be able have his own say when the teams meet in Leith but Hibs boss Ross reckons Magennis’ only focus will be endearing himself to the Easter Road faithful.
Ross said: “From my own experience, you get some players who don’t think too much about (playing their former teams), while you’ll get others who feel it brings an added edge to their game.
“The reality is that in the modern football world it will happen fairly often through your playing career such is the transient nature of it.
“I think for Kyle it will undoubtedly have some added significance because he spent so long at St Mirren and it’s the first time he’s come up against them.
“But I don’t think it will be the determining factor in his motivation to win the game. I think he’s showed on Saturday that his desire is to be a big player for us.”
Magennis was still fighting back from a serious knee injury sustained with Saints in January when he joined Hibs and suffered a further setback just a few weeks after moving to the capital as he picked up a hamstring injury.
But he is now free of those fitness concerns and grabbed his first goal for the club in Saturday’s draw with Dundee United.
Now Ross – who gave Magennis his first-team debut when he was St Mirren boss – is predicting big things.
“Kyle looks in a better place physically and psychologically than he was before,” he said. “He’s got some more work done and he’s now feeling at home among his new team-mates and staff. He had only known one club prior to that but he was in an all-round better place going into last week’s game.
“I was delighted with him. He may have physically been able to last longer than the time we left him on for but it was about managing him as we want him available during this busy period.
“He’s making really good progress. His performance levels are going up with each game he plays.
“I thought he was good last Saturday. His contribution was obvious with the goal but I think his all-round play was good too.
“I gave Kyle his debut and played him a lot as a young player, so I’ve always had a lot of faith in his ability.
“I think he knows that, which is encouraging for him. He’s made this move knowing how much faith I have in him.
“And I do think he has growth in him. He can improve and there is still a lot he can achieve in his career.”
Saints are unbeaten in 11 games and Ross admitted: “St Mirren’s recent form has been very, very good. Jim has done a very good job in his time at the club and he’s someone I know well.
“I’m delighted that he’s had that upturn in results.
“We understand the challenge that faces us but our form – which includes just four defeats in 24 games this season – is pretty good going for a Hibs team. It’s pretty good going for any team.”
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