Hibs midfielder Stevie Mallan admits he is determined to propel himself into Steve Clarke’s Scotland squad this season.
The 23-year-old enjoyed an outstanding maiden campaign at Easter Road following a frustrating 12 months at Barnsley and was named both the Players’ Player and Player of the Year at the club’s awards bash.
Mallan, who notched 13 goals and came up with 11 assists last term, has now vowed to make further strides in the hope that excelling for the Leith outfit will attract Clarke’s attention.
“When I came to Hibs I didn’t know how it would go and it exceeded my expectations with the amount I played.
“It’s pushed me on this year to make my achievements even higher and see if I can get a sniff of the Scotland squads as well.
“You want to start pushing even further.
“With Scotland, it’s harder goals to get but that can push me more as a player.
“I want to score more goals, assist more and win more as a team, maybe a cup.
“I’ve had my taste of 21s football and I’ve watched my good friend Lewis Morgan make that step up, deservedly so.
“You have Oli Burke, John Souttar, Scott McKenna – John McGinn as well, I’ve seen boys at that age group make the step up.
“I’ve seen them do it and now I feel it’s my turn. First and foremost I need to put the performances in at Hibs to be up there.
“Hopefully this could be the year.”
Scotland have a raft of options in midfield but Mallan insists he is not fazed by the daunting task of trying to catch Clarke’s eye.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s friendly against Newcastle United at Easter Road, Mallan added: “You have a lot of boys down south in the Premier League like John McGinn and Kenny McLean, there’s also Scott McTominay at Manchester United – so the midfield is not easy to get in, I tell you that.
“It just means I need to be even better to get a chance but it’s a challenge I’m up for.
“I’ve looked at the midfield over the years and it’s not short of options with the guys in England and the players at Celtic and Rangers.
“It’s something I really want to do so hopefully I can have a good season and see what happens.
“You know that pathway is there for young players and guys who are doing well in the Scottish league.
“Sparky (Marc McNulty) came in and scored a few goals for us last season and got in the Scotland squad.”
Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom, meanwhile, is keeping his fingers crossed that Martin Boyle’s latest knee injury is not serious after the winger was yesterday sent for scans.
The Australian internationalist sustained a knock to same knee that he had surgery on in January during Friday’s Betfred Cup victory at Elgin City.
Having used all their subs, Hibs had to play the final six minutes with only ten men after Boyle, who returned to competitive action on July 20 against Alloa, hobbled off.