At the start of this season, Livingston fans were pining for Ryan Hardie to return to action. After an injury lay-off limited him to just one Premiership appearance before December, Livi were left without a proper marksman.
They were doing exceptionally well in the league, but the man on loan from Rangers was set to give them an extra lift. His aim was to provide them with the goals that could push Livi towards an astonishing top six position.
It all looked rosy, Hardie netted five goals in December, two of which came in a stunning 5-0 win over Hearts. Since then though, the forward has lost his way a bit.
With no goals in eight games and seemingly struggling for fitness, what exactly has dented the Lions forward’s form?
Hardie needs a strike partner
For one the striker looks a bit rusty. He was just getting into his stride prior to the winter break. Another three weeks off is not what he needed and it looks to have hampered him slightly.
Anytime he runs it looks like his legs could give way at any minute. It’s perhaps the reason Gary Holt has dropped the striker for the past few games. Hardie’s fitness is clearly an issue. He has only completed five full games since April last year due to injury. There’s an even bigger argument though for why the forward has struggled for form.
He needs a proper secondary striker. He isn’t suited to the way Holt is trying to play him just now. Currently whenever Hardie plays he is just chasing hopeless long balls from defence. The Scotsman is a poacher and isn’t suited to doing all the dirty work.
This is why he worked well with Lee Miller last term in the Championship. The veteran forward would win all the high balls from the back and link up well with Hardie. He fed off Miller’s work and it was a fearsome partnership in Scotland’s second tier. With Miller also struggling with injury, the 21-year old has suffered without this service.
Livi fans will be hoping for better when it comes to Hardie. They are on a terrible run which hasn’t seen them pick up a win in eight. If that is to change anytime soon, they need their number nine to step up to the mark.