Hibs’ Stevie Mallan explains why he can’t wait to team up with Scott Allan
Stevie Mallan has admitted he’s already excited at the thought of teaming up with Scott Allan next season, claiming the midfielder’s return to Easter Road signals the levels to which Hibs are aspiring.
Allan has signed a pre-contract agreement to rejoin the Capital club for a third time when his current deal at Celtic expires and Mallan expects him to be just one of a number of arrivals as head coach Paul Heckingbottom revamps his squad over the summer.
Revealing he’d never played with or against 26-year-old Allan, Mallan said: “Scott is someone I have admired from afar for a long time.
“Last season I looked out for Hibs because I knew a few of the boys who were playing here and he was a standout. To be able to bring that quality of player in just shows the levels the club are aspiring to.
“I’m sure he will make us better, ask any fan and I’m sure they’ll say the same. He’s a hero here, and rightly so, because he’s a really good player.
“He’s the type of player I like to play with, getting on the ball, creating opportunities. Ryan Gauld, Stephane Omeonga and Emerson Hyndman – when he was here – are all players who like to play football, to get the ball down and keep it and that probably describes Scott’s way of playing.
“It just makes it that little bit more exciting having that quality of player.”
Having seen Hibs embark on a run of ten league games undefeated which has lifted the club from eighth in the Premiership table to being in with a shout of a possible Europa League place, Mallan believes next season will be “massive” for Hibs as they look to push on again.
And to that end, he’s impatient to see how things will shape up under his former Barnsley boss Heckingbottom before next season gets underway.
While club skipper David Gray and fellow defender Darren McGregor have been tied up on long-term deals, midfielder Marvin Bartley’s contract is running down, as is that of Dutch internationalist Miquel Nelom – who has made only three appearances – and those of short-term signings Gael Bigirimana and Jonathan Spector.
Loan players such as Gauld, Omeonga, Thomas Agyepong, Adam Bogdan and Darnell Johnson will return to their parent clubs, leaving apparent holes to be filled, although the core of today’s squad will remain to provide an underlying continuity while winger Martin Boyle and defender Ryan Porteous, both ruled out for the second half of this season following knee surgery, will return to action after the break.
Mallan, named player of the year both by the Hibs support and his own team-mates, said: “Next season is going to be a big year, the manager’s first starting a season here. I think he wants a lengthy pre-season so he can bed in his own ideas.
“Obviously, every pre-season brings fresh faces so it will let any of the new boys get with the manager’s programme. A lot of the loan players who are here will go back to their parent clubs, whether the manager wants to try to bring them back will be up to him.
“There will be fresh faces but the nucleus of the squad will be here, giving the manager more time to work with us and outline his plans for each player individually.
“I’m sure he will bring more in so it’s going to be interesting to see the fight for who plays on a Saturday. But that’s what you want at a football club, that’s what the manager wants, a fight for places so that the team on match day is of the highest standard possible.
“He has emphasised to everyone that if you are not playing well you are not in the team. You know your duties and your roles and if you are not doing it, he’s going to bring someone else in to do it.”