EASTLEIGH forward Ryan Hill has made a fight with Virgil van Dijk, headless with Dominic Solanke, experienced life in a Premier League academy – he knows how important this season is to realize his and the club’s aspirations.
The 23-year-old joined Eastleigh in the Autumn last year after admiring National League South side Hampton & Richmond, another climb the ladder to be climbed by the nippy attacker.
When he signed for Spitfires, he found himself just trying to apply his talents to any manager role Ben Strevens saw fit – spells on either wing and brief appearances in a more advanced position.
He showed glimpses of the quality placed there inside. A brace and assist in a poor FA Trophy tie at Wealdstone, a very good low winner in a small tournament against Yeovil.
Now 11 points from 5 games for @eastleighfc which disappeared from the 18th to the 8th in 2 weeks
It also took the lead from Ryan Hill as well – the all -time Eastleigh 1-0 Yeovil #spitfires
– Ian (@ Ian_Wilding1) Feb. 9, 2021
But by his own admission, this is not what Hill wants to do. He wanted to have a bigger impact on games, caused a bigger nightmare to his opponents, show that he has the potential to be a bigger player.
“This year, I’m not afraid to say it, I want to be one of those players that boys can call,” Hill told the Daily Echo, “someone who leads by example in attacking the end of the pitch. ”
– Eastleigh FC (@EastleighFC) October 3, 2021
He added: “Last year it was my first season in the National League and if I go back to it now, no matter how hard it is to say I’m probably not happy with how I played.
“Every game I’ve played I make sure I’m doing my job for the team in terms of being defensive, but I don’t think I got enough goals, like I was involved as much as I wanted to.
“In the off-season I left and talked to some people I trusted and told them I would work on the job, I knew how Joe Tomlinson would come back (in the pre-season) and how good he was, so I talked I did him in the off season and whatever he was doing, I said I still had work to do.
“I was looking at how influential (Ben) Housey was last year and I wanted to do something similar.”
The work went unnoticed by Strevens – aside from opening the day with a loss to Wrexham and Saturday’s late win at Wealdstone, Hill started every National League game of the season, scoring his first campaign goal against Dover.
It doesn’t tell the full story of his impact, with his relentless pressing and diligent efforts that have been the provider of minimal goals and goal-setting goals.
His improvement also extends to physical stature, so stand-in skipper Andrew Boyce pointed to Hill’s change when speaking to the Daily Echo earlier in the season.
“Being someone who isn’t the biggest kid,” Hill added, “Boycey and I always joked that I had to be horrible to play against otherwise the big center halves would think they could. my bullyin.
“In my head, it feels like‘ no chance ’.
“Although all the results didn’t go to us, I was definitely more involved than last year, running behind the defenders and they were only facing the final third.”
Despite a slow start due to a modified squad and plenty of gelling required, Eastleigh is chasing a play-off appearance for the first time since 2018-19 after narrowly missing last year.
– RH. (@ _RyanHill21) July 12, 2021
And Hill will again want to find ways to improve his output, with one last chance after the Stones sent low on the keeper on Saturday.
Although he will always look back on his Premier League 2, the highest level of academia football in England, Stoke City’s love time, he admitted that he thinks senior football is the real deal.
He declared: “Obviously I love it, it’s brilliant, I’m from not league to play in some of the biggest stadiums in England, good for me.
“But if I’m honest under 23 is nothing compared to the National League.
“I played against van Dijk, Solanke, Nathanial Clyne, Joe Gomez etcetera, but at the end of the day playing in the National League three points is three points, contracts are on the line, jobs are on the line, it’s more important – This is what I call proper football.
“I’ve learned a lot from some top players, and I’ve played with some people who are now on Stoke’s first team, but for me it doesn’t compare to National League football.
“Everything is nothing or nothing.”