Hibernian midfielder Stevie Mallan has revealed he is inspired by former team-mates John McGinn and Kenny McLean’s ascent to the Premier League.
Scotland internationals McGinn and McLean are now plying their trade in the English top flight having been key players in successful Championship campaigns last season for Aston Villa and Norwich respectively.
Mallan, whose side face Rangers at Ibrox on Sunday in the Ladbrokes Premiership, was a youngster at St Mirren when McLean and McGinn made the breakthrough with the Paisley outfit and then played alongside McGinn at Hibs.
Add in another former St Mirren team-mate Lewis Morgan – who starred for Celtic in their midweek Champions League qualifier – and Mallan insists seeing them all now star on such a high level gives him extra motivation to strive for those heights.
Mallan said: “John’s signed a long-term deal at Aston Villa and rightly so as he’s gone on and done ever so well.
“It’s good to see my friend Lewis starting in the Champions League qualifiers and he’s thriving under Neil Lennon.
“It just shows you the crop of boys that came through at St Mirren are doing well. Kenny McLean, as well, playing in the Premier League.
“Now hopefully it’s my turn this year to show what I’m about and hopefully I can make that step up and see where I can take myself.
“If you put the dedication and the time in and you play well, you’ve got that chance to make the jump to that level.
“When we were in the Europa League I was sharing a room with John and he didn’t have a clue what was going to happen and fast forward a year and he’s playing in the Premier League, so it’s unbelievable what he’s done.
“And it just shows the pathway to the Premier League is there if you do the right things and are at a team like Hibs that gives you a platform to express yourself.”
Hibs recorded three draws against Rangers in four league meetings last season and Mallan expects another close but exciting encounter.
He said: “It’s one everyone is looking forward to and it’s even better it comes in the second game of the season.
“I enjoyed the games we played against them because it was end-to-end stuff. We got a lot of draws against them, it was expansive football, attacking football and no one was sitting in.
“They are the type of games you thrive to play in, especially going to stadiums like Ibrox.
“I expect the game on Sunday to be like they were last year, close games and exciting for people to watch.”
Meanwhile Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom is still unhappy with the challenge that has put new signing Tom James on the sidelines for an extended period.
James suffered ankle ligament damage following a challenge by St Mirren’s Ilkay Durmus during Hibs’ 1-0 win.
Heckingbottom said: “It was a stinker. They are the tackles that can injure players when the foul is on the standing leg.
“For me, you can forgive the ones where there is a coming together as it’s an impact and both players are going for the ball and that’s fine.
“But when there is no attempt to play the ball and all the weight is on the standing leg that’s what’s going to happen.”