After notching his third first-team appearance for Hibs last weekend, Jamie Gullan will board the team bus to Kilmarnock tomorrow hoping he’s made the cut for a place in the 18-man squad at Rugby Park.
The 19-year-old attacker has been a regular member of Neil Lennon’s matchday pool this season after impressing for the double-winning development team last season, but he has become accustomed – along with fellow youngster Sean Mackie – to the weekly waiting game before learning around 90 minutes before kick-off if he will actually be listed among the substitutes.
Gullan has made the bench five times this season and has got on the pitch three times - away to Faroese side NSI Runavik in the Europa League in July, at home to Hamilton Accies last month and at home to Dundee last weekend. The Buckstone boy is gradually feeling his way more prominently into contention.
“It’s been a good season for me,” he told the Evening News. “I’ve been in the squad for the majority of games this season. I’ve been left out the 18 quite a lot but I’ve been on the bench a few times and got on a couple of times so I feel like I’m a lot closer to the first team. I never expect to be on the bench so it’s always a wee bonus when I get told I’m going to be a sub. Sean Mackie’s been in a similar position to me. We’ve both been in most of the squads and we just wait to find out on the day if we’re going to be on the bench. We don’t really know when we’re on the bench or in the stand. We just find out about an hour and 15 minutes before the game. Hopefully I’ll get on the bench again on Saturday. I want to keep my place on the bench for as long as I can and also try and get on the pitch again and try and keep building, getting more minutes.”
After making his debut as a late replacement for Marvin Bartley in the Faroe Islands in the summer, Gullan got his first taste of playing a first-team match at Easter Road when he came on for the last 15 minutes of the 6-0 win over Hamilton in early October. He has been on the bench for each of Hibs’ last three matches and got another cameo in the last few minutes of last Saturday’s draw with Dundee after fellow substitute Thomas Agyepong had to come off injured.
“I had a feeling I might get on in the Hamilton game because we were 4-0 up,” said Gullan. “It was a great feeling to be out there in front of all the fans at Easter Road. I got involved quite a bit in the game and it gave me a lot of confidence. I got another five minutes at the end of Dundee game which shows I’m in the manager’s thoughts. I just need to keep training well to stay involved with the team and then, if I get a bit of luck, you never know what might happen.
“The manager talks to us a lot and gives us advice. He’s really helpful in training, telling us what we need to do and what we need to do better. He’s great with us. He and Garry Parker come to most of our reserve games so that brings a bit of extra pressure because they’re the two people you need to impress the most.”
Gullan has been used as a striker in his fleeting first-team appearances thus far but is equipped to play anywhere in attack. “I’ve come on as a striker in both my appearances so far but I usually play wide left or behind the striker for the 20s,” he said. “My preferred position is probably behind the striker but I can play anywhere across the front.”
Gullan joined Hibs a little over three years ago after being released by Hearts. As he bids to establish himself in Lennon’s squad, he takes heart from seeing peers on both side of the city making their presence felt in the Scottish Premiership. “I played with Callumn Morrison who is obviously doing well at Hearts now,” said Gullan.
“That gives you confidence when you see a guy you played with for three or four years doing well in a first team in the Premiership.
“Then there’s Ryan Porteous here who looks like he’s been in the first team for years so that also gives you the belief that you can do the same.”