BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Hearts striker Gavin Reilly insists he is ready to send opposition defenders into a spin – after finally mastering his washing machine.
The 22-year-old admits he has taken time to adapt to living away from home for the first time, allied with the step-up in standard since arriving at Tynecastle in summer.
Reilly has made just five starts, scoring once against Motherwell back in August.
However, the former Queen of the South star staked his claim in style against Celtic on Sunday, testing the champions with bright movement and direct running during the thrilling 2-2 draw.
And Reilly says that is a mark of the progress he has made since his close season switch – on and off the pitch.
He said: “I always knew it was going to be hard at Hearts. This is a massive club in Scotland and around the world and has played in Europe, so I was delighted to get the chance here.
“The biggest adjustment has been living away from home and playing with Premiership-standard players. I feel like I have adapted now and am keen to take my chance.
“Even doing my own laundry and things like that take some getting used to!
“People will say ‘man up, you’re 22 and should live with those things’ but everything adds up to make it a challenge. You combine that with getting used to a different training regime.
“But every player is the same, there will be highs and lows. It’s about trying to nullify the lows and progress as well as possible.
“However, it’s all really exciting at the same time and I’ve really enjoyed the experience and have settled. It’s now about making sure the performances like Sunday continue.”
Despite a stop-start beginning to life in Gorgie, Reilly is adamant he is now a better player that the one who arrived from Palmerston Park on the back of 43 goals in during his five years in the Borders.
He attributes much of that progress to the influence of fellow front-men Juanma and in-form Osman Sow.
Really continued: “I think I’m a better player now. I’m training at a very high level with great facilities and, when I do get the chance to play, I’m playing alongside better players.
“I would never take anything away from Queen of the South, because without them I wouldn’t be where I am today, but I feel like I am progressing every single day at Hearts.
“I’m training hard and getting stronger and better. Possibly I wouldn’t have been able to play like that against Celtic when I first arrived.
“Juanma and Osman [Sow] have both been great. You just watch them in training and in a game – and try and take in what you can and learn what they do well to overcome defenders.
“I take what I can to copy them when I come on and try and make the same impact.”
With Juanma serving the second game of his two-match ban for a moment of madness against St Johnstone, Reilly is likely to lead the line at Tynecastle against Dundee United this evening.
And he is determined to give head coach Robbie Neilson a headache when the big Spaniard returns to contention for Saturday’s fixture at Kilmarnock.
He added: “If I do start against United and I do well and score, I’d like to think I’d be in with a good chance of starting on Saturday.
“But, if not, I am happy to wait my time. I am here for a long time. There is no point jumping the gun or chucking my toys out of the pram.
“I am happy to wait. But I feel as if I would have a good chance of keeping playing if I do well tonight.”