Football Expert & Columnist
Andy Walker says Hibernian must capture Leigh Griffiths on permanent contract
Andy Walker says Hibernian must tie on-loan Wolves hot-shot Leigh Griffiths to a permanent contract.
Last Updated: 05/11/12 1:36pm
It will undoubtedly take a long time for the fans to get over that one but after 12 games this season, Hibs sit proudly at the top of the SPL alongside Celtic.
It's a credit to manager Pat Fenlon that he has been able to instil a winning mentality into his group of players following that painful defeat.
Having good players helps, of course, and in Leigh Griffiths, Hibs possess a front man who consistently makes all the difference. He is in the form of his life and may well earn a call-up to the full Scotland side.
Saturday's double against St Mirren took his total for the season to 11 and without him the simple truth is that Hibs would be ordinary.
Griffiths is on loan at Easter Road until January from Wolves, but Wanderers boss Stale Solbakken has already indicated that the 22-year-old won't be part of his plans and he's happy for him to pursue his career away from Molineux.
Hibs are renowned for running a tight ship but it would be madness if they didn't secure his services on a permanent transfer.
Griffiths was known for his temperamental outbursts but it looks as though he has tried hard to put that juvenile streak behind him and is maturing into a constant threat.
The big concern I can see for Hibs fans is that if they keep putting his potential signing off - and he keeps scoring at his current rate - he may well attract the attention of clubs prepared to take a chance on a goalscorer in a rich vein of form.
My guess is that rather than get involved in a bidding war with other clubs for his services, they do a deal quickly to give both the player and the fans a boost. It would also help Pat Fenlon plan a better future for the club.
To be fair to Hibs, they are entitled to highlight how well they are run off the park. When Tony Mowbray and John Collins were managing the team, they had the luxury of developing a talented group of exciting young players.
Scott Brown, Kevin Thomson, Steven Whittaker and Steven Fletcher all came through the youth set-up together and were sold for millions by the club. That money has been used to improve the ground and build a training centre to nurture the talent of the future.
But after a truly awful season last time round when relegation was a real possibility in April, the supporters needed a lift and like fans of every club, they love to idolise a goal-scorer.
Sunday's game should provide the opportunity to see a number of talented Scots in action and Johnny Russell and Gary Mackay-Steven are capable of scoring goals for a Dundee United side who produced a remarkable comeback last weekend.
Trailing SPL champions Celtic by two goals with a minute to go, United showed great fighting spirit to get a goal back then secure a point with an equaliser in injury time.
With Griffiths on one side scoring for fun and the Terrors' exciting young talent on the other, it's a fixture that promises goals.
Don't miss Hibernian v Dundee United, 12.30pm, Sunday, Sky Sports 4 HD.