First Team

Gavin's getting there

4th January 2016

Striker feels he's starting to show he's good enough to play regular first-team football.

Hearts fans are starting to see the best of Gavin Reilly, in the opinion of the striker himself.

The summer signing from Queen of the South netted for the second time this week in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

Head coach Robbie Neilson kept faith in the Dumfries-born striker, following impressive performances in his previous two outings, and was rewarded as Reilly netted a first-half equaliser.

“The gaffer keeping me in the side with Juanma back has given me a great confidence boost, if I’m honest,” said Gavin. “It would have been easy for him to rotate me out of the side.

“I’d have understood, I’m a team player and this has been my third game in six days which I don’t think I’ve even done in quite a long time.”

Having burst into the side with an impressive few performances to start the season, Reilly admittedly struggled with the demands of full-time top level football.

As a result, he dropped out of the team for a few months to allow him to adjust to the rigours of training and playing at a higher level without ever losing faith in his own ability.

“I always felt I was good enough to play at this level, I just had to adapt to the demands of the league and training,” he continued. “I’ve been waiting for a chance patiently.

“Hopefully that’s me sorted now, and I can bed into the side now that I’ve started to score goals playing up front.

“I was adapting to a higher level and buzzing about with the excitement, but after the initial buzz, I started to try too hard. It’s all new and exciting to begin with.

“Then you start to realise the demands of training at a consistently high level and your body takes time to deal with it as you realise how difficult it is.

“I feel like I’m ready to start making a proper contribution now, and I know I’m good enough to play for Hearts.”

When asked if he felt Hearts were performing above expectations given their sharp rise from playing in last season’s Championship, the forward dismissed the idea that the team should be settling for anything.

“We have to be aiming higher than consolidation,” he explained. “Top six was our initial aim, but we feel we’ve got that nailed from our early season form.

“We want to get into a European position, maintain that, and then make an attempt for second next, we know we’re more than capable of achieving that.”

Lastly, on the subject of Saturday’s match, Gavin admitted the team’s poor finishing up front had cost them dear, but vowed to make up for that in next weekend’s Scottish Cup clash against Aberdeen.

“When we went 2-1 up, we gave them a bit of a battering for 10 minutes but didn’t get the goal and then we became conscious of the possibility they would score.

“We showed signs of quality but we didn’t shine so much up front. Having said that, it’s a point gained so we’re back on the road towards a big game next week.”