Bjorn Johnsen believes he is ready to produce his best form for Hearts after finally breaking his scoring duck in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Dundee.
The Norwegian-American came off the bench to slot in his side’s second goal from close range with a minute left after Callum Paterson headed the hosts in front at Tynecastle. Having had six appearances – albeit five as a substitute – without a goal, the 24-year-old admits he was beginning to feel the pressure.
Johnsen is hopeful that his “crummy” strike against bottom-of-the-table Dundee will get him off and running.
“I’m happy and excited,” he said. “It’s always a relief for a striker to get his first goal, it takes the pressure off and makes you not think as much. There was pressure on me, but that’s just from myself, no-one else. You saw the relief on Tony Watt when he scored his first goal [against Partick Thistle in August].
“It’s one of those things when you come to a new club that you want to get your first goal and look forward. For me, that was a big moment for me and for my family. They’ve been pushing me to relax, stay calm and not stress myself.
“When you’re stressing as a striker and trying to get your first goal those little crummy goals are the ones you need to get before you can get some nice goals.”
Johnsen hopes his goal can earn him a starting place for the trip to Kilmarnock on Wednesday week after he failed to seize his chance in his only previous start – the 1-0 defeat away to St Johnstone last month. “I was disappointed about coming in against St Johnstone and not getting a win because that was my first full game,” he said. “I want to be in the starting eleven, I have to push myself through and those kind of things [the goal against Dundee] can help me get into the team.”
While the introduction of Johnsen from the bench in place of Conor Sammon was well-received by the Hearts support, the same couldn’t be said of Robbie Neilson’s previous substitution. The home fans booed the decision to take off Tony Watt and replace him with Robbie Muirhead in the 57th minute.
Watt was clearly disappointed at being taken off but the move paid dividends as Muirhead’s influence was key to making the breakthrough ten minutes later. Johnsen insists that Hearts’ squad is now so strong that no player should be viewed as too good to be substituted and that those on the bench are well-equipped to make a significant contribution.
“A lot of teams don’t have a squad of twenty guys,” he said. “I think they [the fans] have to understand that none of us are angry about being on the bench. We’re all ready to play and whoever comes in is going to be playing on full throttle. I think they have to understand that if someone drops out, it’s not the end of the world. Someone can come in and help out, as you saw against Dundee. I think that’s the real reason they need to relax a little bit.”