Myles Hippolyte knows he faces an arduous couple of weeks should he break his league duck for new club Livingston in the Championship opener against Hibs at Easter Road tomorrow.
The 19-year-old Englishman arrived north of the border to put pen to paper last month and has already got off the mark, netting for the Lions in the Petrofac Training Cup first-round 4-3 victory over Queen of the South almost two weeks ago.
However, the league is his bread and butter and should he find a way past Mark Oxley in the Hibs goal tomorrow, the former Brentford striker fears a backlash from the Hibs-supporting family he’s currently residing with in West Lothian.
Asked if he will be allowed to step foot in the front door upon his arrival home, Hippolyte said: “I would certainly hope so! We’ll just have to see how it goes though. We have discussed it but they want me to do my best. They’re a remake of my own family to be honest as I get on with them really well. They want me to score, but, at the same time, not to beat Hibs.
“They’ll be there tomorrow, but they’ll be in the Hibs end. If I do score, I will probably try and be a bit more subtle about it!”
Tomorrow’s encounter won’t be the first occasion Hippolyte has come face to face with Hibs boss Alan Stubbs.
The teenager recalls playing against an Everton youth side from last season when he was on trial at Sheffield Wednesday – a possible destination that involved informal talks before Livingston manager John McGlynn put the call into his agent in a bid to entice him to the Energy Assets Arena.
“I’ve come up against Alan Stubbs before when he was at Everton,” Hippolyte said. “I played against his team so I know he likes the passing game, but I think it’s going to be more of a desire thing on who wants it more on the day – us or Hibs.
“It’s going to be a really big game. I haven’t really experienced playing against the well-known clubs so it will be a good opportunity for myself. I had a look at the stadium just the other day and it’s a fantastic place to go and play at.
“I also watched Hibs the other night against Rangers and they’ve got good players – we can see that, but at Livingston we shouldn’t fear any team we come up against. The manager has put his trust in me, played me in a couple of games, I got a goal and did quite well. I’ve also been working on my defensive side of things, but I’ve enjoyed it.”
Hippolyte, similarly to any aspiring footballer, is desperate to be involved at some point tomorrow – albeit if his participation comes from stepping off the substitutes’ bench.
He said: “I think all the others in that position will have a shot at starting as we’ve worked hard as a team in pre-season. It would be great for me to start tomorrow, but it’s whatever the gaffer goes with and I’ll be 100 per cent behind his decision.”
But this season’s Championship, the most eagerly anticipated in decades, is not a sprint but a marathon and Hippolyte is only too aware his opportunity to contribute will come in whatever way he can.
With local rivals Hibs and Hearts, plus the addition of Glasgow giants Rangers in Scotland’s second tier, Hippolyte appreciates his debut season presents a gruelling challenge in a bid to overhaul the league’s “big three”.
“My parents and I sat at home and discussed the move up here and we’ve always known about Rangers, Celtic, Hibs and Hearts,” he said. “So when I came up here, I said to my agent I am going to view this as a real chance and hopefully I can take it. That is certainly what I am aiming to do.
“Even the Under-21s manager at Sheffield Wednesday said to me it is going to be a fantastic league to play in this year. Playing in front of so many fans in big stadiums ... it’s going to be a big step up but you’ve got to get used to it quickly. Even things like having team photos and what have you, it all feels real. I’m really raring to go for tomorrow’s game.”