BY IAIN COLLIN – Capital City Press
Gavin Reilly has already learned plenty just from watching Juanma in action – now he wants the chance to partner Hearts’ new goal-scoring hero.
The Spaniard has grabbed the headlines and the supporters’ adulation so far with a goal on his Premiership debut against St Johnstone and a match-winning brace in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Dundee.
Reilly reckons his fellow summer signing, who began his career at Levante and played in Greece with Asteras Tripoli and Kalloni, has all the tools to become a massive hit for Hearts this season.
And the former Queen of the South youngster is desperate for the opportunity to prove he can be the perfect foil for the new darling of the Tynecastle crowd.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s (Wednesday’s) home meeting with Motherwell, Reilly said: “The big man’s doing brilliant. In the game against St Johnstone, he took his chance well and then two goals against Dundee.
“The skill for his second goal at the weekend was brilliant and you can see in training that he’s got something else.
“He’s played at a good level in Greek football. He’s come over here and scored three goals in two games. Hopefully it can continue and we can keep winning games.
“He’s probably more clever than I’ve been used to. In Scottish football, it’s all guns blazing, everyone chasing the ball, but he’s a wee bit smarter.
“He knows when it’s the time to press and when it’s not. He’s got good skill and he’s a big guy who can hold the ball up.
“It would be great to get up and play alongside the big man. It would help me as well. We’ll just have to wait and see.
“It would suit me. He’s a big guy who could flick it on for me. He’s quick but he doesn’t run the channels all the time.
“I could utilise it if I was to run in behind and he was there holding the ball up, but we have other strikers in the team as well. We have a lot of combinations here and good strength in depth, which you need.”
Reilly revealed Juanma – who was criticised by St Johnstone defender Brad McKay for going down too easily, like a ‘typical foreigner’ – is settling in well to the club, despite a lack of English.
And Reilly himself has confessed to experiencing something new after moving away from home for the first time in his career.
The 22-year-old added: “Juanma doesn’t talk a lot of English so I don’t really get much out of him, but he seems a really down-to-earth guy.
“He mingles with the boys, has a laugh and a joke and tries to speak as much English as possible, so he’s a good guy.
“You try and speak to him slowly and he doesn’t really understand some things.
“Like myself, it will be a learning curve for him off the field. This is the first time I’ve moved away from home so I’m trying to adapt.
“He’s played in Greece so he’ll be used to living away from home, but coming here, it’s a new language. It’s all learning, but it’s all exciting as well.”