Harry McKirdy has Hibs gauntlet thrown down as striker gets chance to change everything in Leith

David Gray has urged Harry McKirdy to grasp a fresh opportunity after his stunning strike helped ease Hibs to success.

The attacker displayed quality with a brilliant first-half lob as the Premiership side hit five in Meadowbank. McKirdy made little impact during his first year at Easter Road and then missed the first-half of last term after heart surgery. The 27-year-old spent the remainder of the campaign back at former club Swindon Town. But Gray has wiped the slate clean having taken charge on a permanent basis and says it’s down to McKirdy to seize his chance.

The boss said: “He is a brilliant trainer and works really hard, you can see the quality he’s got. It’s probably not gone the way he wanted it to go when he first joined the club, but he recognises what is in front of him and it’s up to him to work as hard as he can and up to us as staff to get the best out of him.

“You see the ability he has, he does that everyday in training and applies himself really well. He has come back in really good condition and started the season well, so it’s up to him to keep pushing every single day.

“I thought he did well. I thought everybody did well. I know every player inside out. That’s the benefit of me being in this position. I know their strengths and weaknesses, but the players we’ve got, they’ve all got opportunities to impress.

“Regardless of whether that’s now or in any game, every time you go on the training pitch, you’ve got a responsibility to be the best you can be. That’s the important bit, that every player does that every day because being judged every day is part of being a professional footballer.”

McKirdy’s wonderful effort capped a three-goal first-half for the Premiership side. Chris Cadden bagged the first before helping Dylan Vente set-up Dylan Levitt for a coolly-slotted second.

McKirdy’s brilliant finish came before Gray changed his entire team at the interval with Jake-Doyle Hayes making a first appearance since last August. Keeper Josef Bursik, the only new signing to appear, was amongst those replaced, but Hibs’ flow wasn’t halted as Reuben McAllister added a fourth within moments of the restart.

Josh Campbell, who took the captain’s armband from Joe Newell at the interval, completed the scoring with a terrific strike. City, who got their Bronze License before the game, were swatted aside. Gray said: “The big thing is that it’s been a hard week for the players, even three sessions on Friday, so with the mental side of that and to push through it and come through the game unscathed was great.”

New defenders Marvin Ekpiteta and Warren O’Hora were not involved and Gray explained: “It’s just the timing on when people joined the club. Obviously, Josef played and it’s great to get 45 minutes. He’s stepped it up this week.

“The other two additions are slightly behind on that one and we’ve got international players coming back, so there’s a slightly split group, with those guys training separately this morning. But we’ll all come together on Monday morning. Elie Youan trained at HTC this morning, came through that really well.”