Pinau's patience tested by wait for chance with Hibs

AT MOST clubs in the SPL, any forward who scored seven goals in 11 games for the reserves would be entitled to feel he'd made a credible case for inclusion in the first team.

As Hibernian prepare for Saturday's Edinburgh derby against Hearts, however, the array of striking options available to manager Mixu Paatelainen suggest the most Steve Pinau can hope for at Tynecastle is a seat on the bench.

Indeed, it could be argued the arrival this week of Jonatan Johansson, who can play through the middle as well as on the flanks, as experienced competition for Steven Fletcher, Colin Nish and Derek Riordan up front, will only add another hurdle in the path of the 20-year-old Frenchman. "I want to play more," acknowledged the ambitious youth internationalist on loan from Genoa, where he signed a five-year contract in Italy's Serie A.

"If the gaffer calls on me then I am ready. I have scored seven goals in 11 games for the reserves, but that's just the reserves. I want to start scoring in the first team."

Not only is the style of play in Scotland different from the brand of football he learned to play in France and Italy, but the lifestyle in Edinburgh is also different from Mediterranean culture. "It took me a little time to adapt to Scottish football," agreed the striker. "But now I am okay. I just want to play."

So far, Pinau has made eight appearances as a substitute in the SPL and started one game in the Co-operative Insurance Cup. His only first-team goal came against Morton in the latter competition.

While he waits patiently for his chance, the forward expects to relish the intensity of the Edinburgh derby atmosphere. "I was on the bench during the last game when the atmosphere was great. It was very aggressive. I played for Monaco against Nice and they hate each other. It's even more intense in Edinburgh, probably because (it is two teams in] the one city and the stadiums are so close. Here, there's more passion. It's better here.

"We have two derbies inside a week and that's going to be very important for the whole city. A week ago, some fans came up to me and Steven Thicot in the street and told us: 'Be ready for Hearts. We don't want to see anybody out (enjoying themselves] before the game.'"

Although the Frenchman understands the passion of local rivalries well enough, he knows the players who keep their heads and produce their usual skills will be the ones who prove most influential on the pitch.

"To win, we must play like we normally do. Of course, it's a derby so you need to be more aggressive – but not just aggressive. We must pass the ball and try to score like we do in training.

"I'm not the sort of person to be scared. But if you lose, it's probably better if you stay at home because the derby means so much to the fans."