Gavin Reilly remains determined to make a success of his Hearts career despite being farmed out to Championship side Dunfermline Athletic for the upcoming campaign.
The 23-year-old striker joined the Pars on a year-long loan last month after managing just 14 starts in a frustrating first season at Tynecastle following his move from Queen of the South last summer.
Reilly, who is contracted to Hearts until 2018, helped the Fife side to a 3-1 win over his parent club in a friendly at East End Park on Saturday. Afterwards he spoke to the Evening News to reflect on where he feels the move to Dunfermline, which reunites him with his former Queen of the South manager Allan Johnston, leaves his prospects of a future with Hearts.
“I’m happy to happy have joined Dunfermline but very disappointed to come away from Hearts because I thought I’d done well whenever given the chance,” he said. “Robbie Neilson spoke to me and said he thought going out on loan was the best thing for me and I’ve just got to accept that. He said he wants me to come back in my final year and I hope I’m back there next season.
“There was never any talk of me leaving Hearts permanently. It was all positive from Robbie. He just said he wants me to come here, do well and prove a point. He told me he wants me to get back in the routine of scoring regularly, and that’s what I’m hoping to do.
“The intention is to come here, do well and be right back in contention for a starting place when I go back to Hearts for my final year. If I’m not wanted, that’s fair enough, but I certainly want to be back there next season.”
Reilly, who scored 43 goals for Queens, managed only four in a stop-start first season in the top flight with Hearts. He admits a lack of regular game time, with Juanma, Abiola Dauda and Osman Sow often preferred up front, meant he found it hard to generate any momentum, aside from a brief spurt after Christmas when he scored three goals in a run of seven consecutive starts. When asked to sum up his first season at Tynecastle, he said: “I had limited game time but I felt I did well with the chances I got. It took me time to adapt because Hearts are a big, big club, but when I got a chance, especially around the Christmas period, I thought I did well. It’s hard going in and out of the team but at a club the size of Hearts, you’ve just got to accept it.
“It’s hard when you go from playing every game for Queen of the South to then getting limited chances. It takes its toll on your confidence, but you can’t let it affect you. When you come to a bigger club, you’re going to face more challenges. You just have to get your head down and work hard, and I thought I did that. I thought I got a good reception from the fans when I played. I did the best I could with the game time I had. I don’t know why I didn’t get more game time but you can’t just go barging in and asking to be playing every week. There’s no bad feelings between me and the manager whatsoever. He feels this is the best thing for me, so I’ve got to accept that.”
When it was decided that he should go out on loan, both Hearts and Reilly felt Dunfermline, back in the Championship, offered the best environment for him to try and rediscover his scoring form.
“I spoke to Allan Johnston a few times at the end of last season and I thought about it and spoke with my agent,” said the striker. “There were a few other teams interested but I didn’t want to move away from Edinburgh, and I’d done well under Allan before at Queens. I need to be as comfortable as possible, and I feel that that’s the case coming here.
“I don’t think Hearts have a call-back option. I’m here to play games, so I don’t want to be going back and forth anyway. I’ve enjoyed it so far. I’m just looking to get going in the league and cup games now. I want to score as many goals as I can and help Dunfermline finish high up the league, and then see what happens from there.”