Stevie Mallan: Hibernian midfielder hungry to make up for 'year out'

Stevie Mallan
Stevie Mallan is impressed with Hibernian's attacking style of football
Europa League first qualifying round: Hibernian v NSI Runavik
Venue: Easter Road Stadium, Edinburgh Date: Thursday, 12 July Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW, text updates on BBC Sport Scotland website

New Hibernian signing Stevie Mallan is keen to make up for lost time after "a bit like a year out of football".

The former St Mirren midfielder played just nine games for Barnsley last season as they were relegated from the English Championship.

That followed two productive seasons with the Buddies in Scotland's second tier, featuring 25 goals in 87 games.

"Coming from playing week in, week out for St Mirren to hardly playing at all is a tough, tough ask," he said.

"I found it mentally tough as well because I wanted to play and felt I could have played but I was left out of a lot of squads.

"The last three, four months was hard. I spoke to the club psychologist and he helped me a lot, keeping positive and [telling me] to take a chance when it comes."

Having been part of the St Mirren set-up since the age of four, not playing regularly was a new experience for Mallan, now 22.

He had to wait until Boxing Day before making his competitive debut for Barnsley.

Stevie Mallan celebrating
Stevie Mallan (left) celebrates scoring for St Mirren, where he made 112 appearances between 2014-17

"That's something I hadn't experienced in football, being left out, and I think it's helped me as I don't want that feeling again," said Mallan, who has signed a four-year deal with Hibs.

"I knew the jump was massive going from the Scottish to the English Championship, but it's not until you get there you realise you can play.

"I felt I could've played a lot sooner than I did, but it's the manager's choice and you can't disagree.

"I'm at a key stage in my career where I just need to play games and as many as possible.

"So it gives me that extra bit of hunger to keep showing what I can do. I came here to play and stamp my authority on the team."

Hibs are preparing to get their new competitive season under way on Thursday, with the first leg of their Europa League first qualifying round tie against Faroese side NSI Runavik at Easter Road.

After last season's fourth-placed finish, they begin a new Premiership campaign with a visit from Motherwell on 4 August.

Mallan featured in Sunday's 2-0 friendly loss to Blackburn Rovers at Easter Road
Mallan featured in Sunday's 2-0 friendly loss to Blackburn Rovers at Easter Road

"I watched a lot of Scottish football and a lot of Hibs games and how much attacking football they played against the top teams," he said.

"I want to now push myself to the limits and against the Celtics and Rangers, so this is the best place for me to showcase what I can do."

One date in Mallan's diary will be Saturday, 29 September, when Hibs travel to face newly-promoted St Mirren.

"I knew coming back to Scotland it would be weird to go back to play against the club I was part of since I was four years old," he added.

"I'm relishing the opportunity to go back and show all the fans how much I've come on and how much they helped me in my career.

"Even though I only played a handful of games, I feel like I've learned quite a lot, particularly on the defensive side of my game.

"I feel like I've matured as man, I'm not just a boy playing football."

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