IT WAS an opportunity that could have quadrupled his wages within the riches of England’s Championship.

Refusal, it seemed, had dulled the predatory instincts.

Hibernian’s rejection of Birmingham City’s multiple bids of up to £3 million for Kevin Nisbet in January coincided with a drop-off, first in form, and then in first team involvement, for a striker previously threatening to outshine Celtic’s Odsonne Edward.

On league goals alone, the 24-year-old still splits Edouard and James Tavernier and Saturday’s timely return to finishing form offered a chance to set the record straight.

Since netting a late equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Celtic Park, goals had dried up for Nisbet after 13 in 24 matches and rumours abounded of a breakdown in relations between him and Easter Road manager Jack Ross, given January’s events.

Nisbet had handed in an official transfer request before the window closed, but, after coming off the bench to net the winner in Dingwall, insisted far too much had been made of his unhappiness at thwarted Championship ambitions.

“It wasn’t too hard, to be honest,” Nisbet insisted, after his 61st minute winner lifted Hibs six points above Aberdeen with six matches to play.

“Listen, things happen in football, and it was obviously a massive opportunity to go.

“I love the club, I get on really well with the gaffer and I have a great relationship with everyone.

“And as soon as the window closed it was in the past and my full focus and attitude was spot on.

“I was there for the boys, I worked hard in training and worked hard when I got on the pitch.

“And for us now it’s about getting into Europe and scoring as many goals as I can for Hibs between now and the end of the season."

Nisbet has four years remaining of his Hibs contract and, while outside interest may be resurrected come the summer, he insists he has re-immersed himself in his employers’ season and fruits to be had domestically and internationally.

Crucial has been a positive relationship with manager Jack Ross.

“We had that chat and that was that, really. There was nothing more to it,” Nisbet said.

“It got portrayed as something bigger and I wasn’t too happy about that.

“It happens in football, the gaffer knows that as well, he has been in football a long time.

“He knew my attitude and my contribution to the club wouldn’t drop. Thankfully I am back scoring goals and now we are in a really good position for third.

“I am happy at Hibs - I have really enjoyed my time here.

“The club has done a lot for me, I have done a lot for the club, we have a great relationship still, I don’t think that every changed.

“And for us it’s about putting it all to bed now and focusing on Europe.

“It’s all there for me, I know that, and I needed that goal to kick me on as well.

“One of my goals at the start of the season was to get in the Scotland squad and now I am back playing and scoring I have every chance. We’ll see what happens the next couple of days.

“Financially, Europe is massive for the club and, as players, it’s exposure, and a chance to go and challenge ourselves.

“It has been a long time since Hibs finished third as well so this is a massive opportunity for us to go and put that right.”

Nisbet dismissed his recent ebb in first team favour as credit to the form of Martin Boyle and Christian Doidge, while acknowledging his personal frustration through the eight-game barren spell.

Saturday’s win was about the team, though, and he added: “It was a massive win. It’s the first time we have come from behind and won as well.

“With it being our game in hand, it puts a bit of distance between ourselves and Aberdeen.

“With them not playing we knew we had to take advantage of it and I thought the boys were brilliant.

“Thankfully I came on and contributed and we got the win.”

A competitive first half saw few chances mustered, but the game exploded after the break.

Jordan White’s downward header from a Jordan Tillson ball into the box set up Billy Mckay for a finish high into the net.

Hibs hit back swiftly, though, with Alex Iacovitti harshly adjudged to have tripped Boyle in the home penalty area, to the fury of John Hughes and his staff.

Boyle confidently smashed the spot-kick straight down the middle and would later be lucky to stay on the field after crashing into County’s Leo Hjelde and, again, appearing to dive in a rejected penalty claim.

Instead, though, Paul Hanlon’s cross from the left picked out substitute Nisbet at the far post for a simple tap-in that could make all the difference to Hibs Euro ambitions.