BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Dunfermline loan star Gavin Reilly is determined to show Hearts boss Robbie Neilson what he is missing after admitting he was “massively disappointed” to learn he was surplus to requirements at Tynecastle this term.
Reilly, 23, joined the Jambos on a three-year deal from Queen of the South last summer and, despite early inconsistency, showed signs of potential with four goals from 14 starts.
The waspish forward also won plenty of admirers with a tireless work ethic in attack.
However, that was not enough to convince Neilson he deserved an extended run in the starting line-up and he was told at the tail end of last season that he would be made available for loan.
And Pars boss Allan Johnston, who coached Reilly to League One and Challenge Cup glory during a hugely successful stint at Queens, wasted no time in snapping up the energetic front-man for the 2016/17 campaign.
Reilly said: “Robbie Neilson spoke to me after the final game of last season and told me he wanted to loan me out to get more game time and thought that would be the best thing for me.
“From a personal perspective, I was massively disappointed to hear that because I thought I had done well with the chances I was given.
“You can only take what you are given and, with the opportunities I got, I was pleased with how I did.
“However, he feels a loan spell is what is best for me and I need to accept that.
“Dunfermline and Allan [Johnston] had been in touch and, after speaking to my agent in family, I thought this was the best place for me to come and I can’t wait to get started now.
“I’ve worked with the gaffer before and am a big admirer of his work. There were other teams interested in me, but for a one-year loan you want to be as comfortable as possible and ready to hit the ground running.”
Despite the frustration of being overlooked by the capital club, Reilly remains adamant he can ultimately force his way into the Hearts side.
He added: “I signed a three-year deal and I’ll go back there with a point to prove.
“I’m still a Hearts player and I’ll be reporting back there at the start of next season – hopefully after a good season of playing and scoring goals for Dunfermline.”
And Reilly has been left in no doubt about the potential at Dunfermline after some sage words from Hearts assistant head coach Stevie Crawford, who remains a firm favourite with the Pars faithful.
Crawford, 42, scored 82 goals during two spells with the club, played in two Scottish Cup finals and enjoyed a much-lauded partnership with Craig Brewster.
His son, Robbie, is also on the books at Dunfermline.
Reilly added: “Stevie spoke to me about the move when it became clear Dunfermline was a real option. He gave me the lowdown about the place and I was really impressed with what he had to say. It’s clearly a big, big club.
“There’s a massive fanbase here and Stevie told me that if you get going then they will give you a real backing. So, I’ll be looking give them something to shout about.
“It’s brilliant to be able to speak to someone like that. He did so well here for a number of years, was a real favourite and if anyone knows Dunfermline, then it’s Stevie Crawford.
“I’ve even met his son! He seems like a good lad with real potential.”