Stevie Mallan sets out Hibs priorities as he targets more than a place in the chorus line

Coming off the bench to provide Hibs with the lift required to make it into the semi-finals of the Betfred Cup, Stevie Mallan does not want to become synonymous with scene stealing cameo appearances.

Hibs midfielder Stevie Mallan was a standout performer for the Easter Road side in their Betfred Cup quarter-final triumph over Alloa. Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group
Hibs midfielder Stevie Mallan was a standout performer for the Easter Road side in their Betfred Cup quarter-final triumph over Alloa. Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group

Instead, Tuesday night’s super sub is hoping performances like the one produced in the second half against Alloa will convince manager Jack Ross to cast him in a starring role, especially with so many blockbusters on the horizon.

So far this season, with Hibs in fine form and competition for places in the first XI intense, he has had to settle for just eight starts and 10 substitute appearances.

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Five of those starts came in the Betfred Cup and although he was left on the bench in Tuesday night’s quarter-final, he made the most of his opportunity when he was thrust on in the 56th minute and turned the game in Hibs favour, providing the tempo, the quality deliveries and the impetus needed to overhaul the Championship side’s one-goal advantage and book a return to Hampden for the Easter Road side.

A telling intervention, he hopes manager Ross will resist the urge to keep him in reserve when the team head to the national stadium next month to compete for a place in the final.

“Any time you find yourself on the bench you want to make an impact and the manager says that any time I come off the bench he wants me to bring something to the team.

“Against Alloa, he wanted me to go on and keep the ball, move it faster and create chances. Thankfully I did that.

“If you are coming on from a goal behind you want to impress and help the team and then maybe get a foot in the door. The manager just told me to come on and do what I have been doing in training and bring it into the game,” revealed the 24-year-old.

“The past few times I’ve come on I’ve maybe not created as much but it worked for me against Alloa. But no player wants to be on the bench. We all want to play and be in that starting XI.

“We’ve got a big squad now and a lot of players coming back to fitness. As soon as you get your chance off the bench you have to take it and impress. But I don’t want to get into that niche of doing too well off the bench. I want to fight my way into the team.”

The huge cup games serve as a massive incentive but there remains plenty football to be played between now and the end of January, with Mallan impatient for greater involvement now.

“I want to be in the team no matter the game and no matter who we are playing against.

“But, I have not played in a final in my career and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, to have the chance of lifting a trophy.

“David Gray and Darren McGregor tell me all the stories about winning the Scottish Cup in 2016 and the aftermath. I want a little taste of that and hopefully it is this season.”

Mallan came off the bench when Hibs played Hearts in the semi final of last season’s delayed Scottish Cup competition but couldn’t halt Robbie Neilson’s men coming out on top. Which means that while the Tynecastle side will compete for silverware on Sunday, Hibs will have to wait until 2021 for their shot at glory.

But that recent disappointment has only served to heighten Hibs’ drive, according to midfielder Mallan.

“We all want to get into a final this season and we are on the right track.

“The defeat to Hearts in our last semi final still hurts. We wanted to be in that final against Celtic with the chance to win the cup.

“But, it can be a driver. You would not have seen us in the dressing room afterwards but we were really down.

“That was the chance of reaching a final and it was a chance of winning silverware. And it was against our rivals so that made it hurt even more.

“We went into that game high on confidence and believing we could win it. It didn’t go our way but the manager says in moments like that you have to remember how you felt and take that into your next big cup game. You don’t want it to happen again because it’s one of the worst feelings in football. So you have that in the back of your mind and it makes you run that extra yard and play that little bit better.”

And now that they are in the final four of another major competition, largely thanks to Mallan’s second half intervention and quality deliveries, they do not want to falter in the final stages.

“The manager said that in the dressing room after the game. We have been in the last three semi finals. That’s where we want to be. But we want to be pushing for finals and to lift silverware.”

And, despite the strength and depth of competition for those midfield berths, with the January transfer window throwing up the possibility of further reinforcements, Mallan knows this congested period of games and the need for squad rotation, gives him a chance to graduate from the subs bench and prove he is of greater value to the team on the pitch and a reliable starter rather than a supersub.

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