SEAN MACKIE is desperate to prove he can fill the boots of Hibernian hero Lewis Stevenson after signing a new three-year contract with the Easter Road outfit.
Mackie, 20, has been rewarded for his impressive impact last term, making 11 first-team appearances including nerveless showings against Celtic, Rangers and Hearts.
The former Raith Rovers kid also made his Scotland under-21 bow against Sweden in March.
And Mackie has a golden opportunity to immediately stake his claim for the left-back berth at Hibs after Stevenson was ruled out for several weeks with a calf tear.
Mackie said: “When George [Craig, head of football operations] told me about the offer, I couldn’t sign it quick enough. I want to keep developing and get even more senior games under my belt.
“I was absolutely gutted for Lewy [Stevenson] when he picked up that injury but I know for a fact that he’ll bounce back stronger – he’s an unbelievable professional.
“But I know it’s a chance for me to challenge for that spot.
“I want to show up well during pre-season and, if I get my chance during the Betfred Cup, perform well and prove to the gaffer [Paul Heckingbottom] that I’m ready to keep the jersey.”
Mackie, who has enjoyed loan stints at Edinburgh City and Berwick, cites his last-gasp assist for Darren McGregor which secured a 1-1 draw at Ibrox last December as the highlight of a memorable breakout campaign.
He also teed up Flo Kamberi in Hibs’ 2-0 triumph over Celtic 10 days earlier and experienced the powder-keg atmosphere of an Edinburgh derby as Hearts ran out 1-0 winners at Easter Road.
Mackie smiled: “To get the chance to step up to the first-team, regardless of opposition, is something to relish – but the size of games were unreal!
“I never imagined at the start of the season I would be playing against Celtic, Rangers and then play in an Edinburgh derby at Easter Road, which was a disappointing result, but an incredible experience.
“I’ve taken so much from playing in those matches – and handling the occasions – that can help my development.
“My assists against Rangers and Celtic were probably the highlights, especially the one at Ibrox. We were 1-0 down with a couple of minutes to play and I managed to find big Daz [McGregor] to get us a point. I’ll never forget that.
“Playing a part in moments like that and big results just gives me more confidence that I can contribute and be a part of the first-team.”