Hibs: Marc McNulty says success hinges on Paul Heckingbottom
|Scottish Premiership: Rangers v Hibernian|
|Venue: Ibrox Date: Sunday, August 11 Kick-off: 15:00 BST|
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Hibernian's success this year may hinge on keeping hold of their "brilliant" head coach Paul Heckingbottom, says Marc McNulty.
Heckingbottom stabilised the club after Neil Lennon's departure in January to guide them to a top-six finish.
McNulty scored seven goals under him while on loan from Reading and believes he is key to a bright season for the Edinburgh club.
"I can't speak highly enough of the manager," the Sunderland forward said.
"Him and the assistant probably were two of the best coaches I've worked with. They both like to be hands on, they are good one-on-one and I'm grateful they gave me the opportunity to play every week.
"I think Hibs will do really well this season and I'll be surprised if they manage to keep hold of him."
McNulty arrived on a six-month deal prior to former Leeds United manager Heckingbottom's appointment but flourished under his guidance.
The 26-year-old, now on loan at the Stadium of Light from Reading, said he was warned off a move to Easter Road as he pondered his options in January.
However, he revealed the lifelong ambition that helped him make up his mind.
"I can remember being at Reading and I was out the picture," he explained. "I was training with the youth team at the time and I had a few options in England, but then Hibs came up.
"I was humming and hawing, I spoke to a lot of people who told me not to go back to Scotland too early.
"But when I thought about it, I always wanted to get a Scotland cap and the best chance of me doing that I thought was to be in the Premiership rather than League Two in England.
"Obviously I then made the switch to Hibs and it was unbelievable, it couldn't have gone any better."
Hibernian were in talks with Reading about McNulty making a return this season to Edinburgh, but the two failed to agree terms.
Now, working under fellow Scot Jack Ross, the former Livingston forward is keen to play his way into new Scotland boss Steve Clarke's thinking after realising his dream of a Scotland cap.
"I loved my time at Hibs and I'm a local lad. I said I'd be open to going back if they could make something work, but I don't think they could make it happen.
"I've not spoken to [Clarke] but it's pretty simple. You play every week, score every week and play well, and I'm sure he'll be watching. Hopefully that's enough to get me in the squad."