Gavin Reilly knows it has taken him a while to get to grips with life as a Premiership footballer. But his bustling performance for Hearts against Celtic on Sunday has proved to the striker – and others – that he has what it takes to survive at the top level.
Reilly is entitled to take succour from a display in which he kept the Celtic defence on their toes for all 80 minutes he was on the pitch. With a bit more luck he might have scored his second goal since his summer move from Queen of the South.
But he can be satisfied with a display that helped silence those who might have doubted whether he has what it takes to make a lasting impression at Hearts. He can now look forward to being asked to reprise his weekend performance against struggling Dundee United tonight.
“The biggest adjustment has been living away from home and playing with Premiership-standard players,” he said. “I feel like I have adapted now and am keen to take my chance.
“Even doing my own laundry and things like that takes 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. Touch wood I’ve not had any domestic disasters just yet,” he added.
The reason he is being handed the chance to start successive games is because Juanma is serving a two-match suspension after being red-carded for a headbutt against St Johnstone.
So while Reilly has relished the chance to learn from his more experienced team-mates they don’t always get everything right. He isn’t expecting to oust Juanma on a long-term basis. However, he is hoping to do enough to give Robbie Neilson something to consider.
“If I do start tomorrow night and I do well and score I am not saying I will start on Saturday [against Kilmarnock], but I’d like to think I’d be in with a good chance of starting,” he said. “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 again tomorrow.”