Florian Kamberi insists he has been putting his body on the line for Hibernian despite Neil Lennon’s claims he has not been working hard enough.
The Easter Road boss vented his frustration with the Swiss striker following last month’s home draw with Livingston.
Kamberi was introduced at half-time but was guilty of gifting away possession in the build up to Ryan Hardie’s Livi opener and then saw a weak penalty stopped by Liam Kelly.
His sloppy display sparked a strongly-worded reaction from Lennon, who bemoaned his failure to respond to repeated pleas for more graft.
However, the 23-year-old has now defended his recent displays, insisting he has been forced to play through the pain barrier following a niggling knee injury.
Kamberi – who struck the only goal as Hibs claimed a 1-0 friendly win over Al Wasl during their winter training break in Dubai – told HibsTV: “Every time I am on the pitch I want to try my best for the team. I am not playing for myself. I’m playing for the team.
“It’s not been easy. I could have said ‘I have fluid in my knee and I cannot play’ but I am not that type.
“I always give 120 per cent. Sometimes it works very well and sometimes it doesn’t work so well.
“The important thing is to have the attitude to try your best for the team. That’s the way I am.”
Kamberi scored nine goals in 14 appearances after joining on loan from Grasshoppers last January, with the deal made permanent in the summer.
There was an early season flurry of seven strikes by mid-October but Kamberi’s strike in the December win over Celtic is his only contribution to the scoring charts in the last 11 games.
Lennon made his unhappiness clear after last month’s Livi clash as he took aim at the stuttering frontman.
“He’s nowhere near as hungry as he was last season,” he said. “He needs to find that hunger again because he’s an important player for us.
“He scored against Celtic but he’s not getting any tap-ins, he’s not getting across people, he’s not holding the ball up well enough.
“He’s not working hard enough and the point isn’t hitting home. We’ve been sitting on this for weeks but we’re getting no response from him. It’s not been good enough for a couple of months.”
Meanwhile, Kamberi is set to be joined in Leith by Ryan Gauld after the Sporting Lisbon playmaker was pictured in Hibs training kit watching the win over Al Wasl as talks over a loan deal continue.
And the striker is hopeful his side can perform with more consistency after the January shutdown.
“This season for every player has been a little bit up and down with the bad run we had and not winning for seven games,” he said. “But we were good against Celtic and Rangers, especially the big teams and took some points.
“Now the first part of the season is gone and we have to focus on the second part. We’ve analysed the first half of the season and every player knows where we need to do better.”
Stay updated with the latest news, gossip and football stories by following us @Football_P