Memories of Europa League fire Stevie Mallan up for Hibs’ league opener
Stevie Mallan believes playing in the early stages of the Betfred Cup has only made him and his team-mates all the hungrier for Europa League football next season.
Paul Heckingbottom’s side have negotiated matches with Stirling Albion, Alloa Athletic, Arbroath and Elgin City to earn themselves a tie at home to Morton in the last 16 of the competition.
Mallan admitted it had brought back memories of this time last year when he found himself making his Hibs debut against Faroese minnows NSI Runavik before going on to play against Asteras Tripolis of Greece and then Norwegian club Molde.
He said: “I was in the door two minutes last year and I was straight into a Europa League game, something I’d not been involved in before. It was amazing and I felt the games I played in were brilliant, one of the highest stages in the world.
“It’s sad we never made it through, but I feel we should be up there testing ourselves against some of the best opposition in the world. It’ll make us hungrier to get back there again.”
Hibs complete their preparations for the coming Premiership season with a friendly against Newcastle United at Easter Road tonight but, insisted Mallan, their approach will be no different to that afforded their Betfred Cup opponents.
He said: “The past few weeks we’ve started to show what we’re about. The boys will be buzzing for Newcastle and we’re feeling really excited to start the league.
“There’s a lot of competition and everyone wants to play. The manager knows how he wants to play and it’s up to us. If you don’t perform, you don’t play. We want to have an impact on the league.”