Australian international midfielder Jackson Irvine has launched his new career with Scottish Premiership club Hibernian by helping them to a victory that pushes them third in the table.
The 34-time capped Socceroo joined forces with his international teammate Martin Boyle as Hibs halted their four-match winless run with a hard-fought 2-0 triumph over Kilmarnock, who Irvine once played for on loan.
The 27-year-old Irvine has been a free agent since leaving English club Hull City in June last year with the coronavirus pandemic making it difficult for him in the search for a new team.
But after briefly returning to Australia, Melbourne’s Irvine agreed to join Hibs, where he’s been able to link up with their fan favourite Boyle, who was back in the side after injury.
Both made decent contributions as Irvine, who’s had plenty of experience in Scotland with Celtic, Kilmarnock and Ross County, was handed a surprise start, having not kicked a ball in competitive action for 10 months.
“No-one has to tell me what a big club this is. I saw it for myself when I was with Celtic and Ross County,” Irvine had said in midweek after his signing.
“I had a great chat with the gaffer (Hibs manager Jack Ross), who outlined that this is a club that wants to be competing for silverware and qualifying for Europe. Why wouldn’t you want to be part of that? I’ve missed playing.”
Hibs went ahead on Saturday courtesy of an Alan Power own goal and sealed the win with a stunning strike from Alex Gogic, who netted his first goal since joining the club last summer.
Boyle had a chance to head home his sixth league goal of the season but his point-blank effort was well-saved.
Elsewhere in Scotland, Celtic’s Socceroo Tom Rogic came in for praise after being drafted in to play an unfamiliar role but the champions, whose title looks certain to go to deadly rivals Rangers this season, were frustrated again in the goalless home draw with Livingston.
Celtic had boss Neil Lennon, assistant John Kennedy and 13 first-team players still self-isolating as close contacts of the injured Christopher Jullien, who was contracted COVID-19 after returning from an ill-fated training camp in Dubai.
Despite having a selection of experienced performers, including Rogic, the visitors were well worth their point.
With Celtic now 20 points behind Rangers with two games in hand, Strachan said: “I thought Tom Rogic acquitted himself well today in a completely unfamiliar role as a No.9.”