BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Hearts striker Gavin Reilly has vowed to hit the ground running after jinxed Soufian El Hassnaoui was ruled out for the remainder of 2015.
Reilly was expected to battle it out with the Dutch-Moroccan for a starting berth up front for the Jambos, however the lanky forward is facing a lengthy absence after suffering knee ligament damage against Preston on Saturday.
The injury is a hammer-blow for El Hassnaoui, who made just 10 starts following his arrival from Sparta Rotterdam last summer as he battled groin and ankle complaints.
And it has heightened the pressure on Reilly to make an immediate impact at Tynecastle.
But Reilly, who was among the first-team players to attend Musselburgh Races yesterday, is determined to thrive after the club’s striking options were handicapped.
He said: “It’s such a shame for Soufian because he had injury problems last season and now he’s got another one. I wish him a speedy recovery but if I get my chance Ill hopefully be able to take it.
“We have a lot of strength in depth throughout the squad, there are plenty of boys who can come in and do a job.
“I believe I can take my chance if I get it. I can play as a number ten and also as an out-and-out striker scoring goals. So we’ll just have to wait and see what happens when the season starts but I’m confident of scoring at Premiership level.
“I don’t want to big myself up too much but I scored against St Johnstone last season and also against Rangers. Hopefully if I’m given the chance and the opportunities come my way then I’m confident I’ll score.
“I want to hit the ground running, there is pressure but that’s also motivation.”
Reilly admits his switch to Hearts from Queen of the South has been a learning curve – on and off the field.
He has never played in the top-flight and conceded that training with the Jambos has been a step up in quality and intensity.
The versatile forward is also new to living away from home, having spent his entire career with Queens and in the relative comfort zone of Dumfries.
Reilly continued: “I’ve enjoyed it, like everyone going into a new job I was a bit anxious to start with but the lads have welcomed me and it’s going really well.
“The intensity of training is a lot higher than I have been used to but I have settled in well.
“I’m 22 and this is the first time I have been away from home.
“I have been living with my sister for the last two months but I am moving into a flat of my own soon. So I am getting new experiences football-wise and also life experiences too.”