Excitement and anticipation: Hibs boss Jack Ross puts players under microscope and looks for lessons learned in Andorra

As Hibs head into their latest European test, the emphasis is on keeping their composure and their focus.

That proved tricky during the first leg of their tie with Santa Coloma, as wild tackles and bizarre cards tested their resolve and their patience.

But, weathering a minor wobble when they went down to ten men after half and hour, while there were challenges to overcome, the Leith side engineered a full-time advantage, in terms of players who had survived controversial referee Vilhjalmur Thorarinsson’s cull, and with regards to the scoreline.

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They head into Thursday night’s decisive second leg with a 3-0 lead and manager Jack Ross is pinning his hopes of progression on a disciplined performance.

Hibs players have been told they must retain their focus if they are subjected to another evening of wild challenges against Santa Coloma on Thursday. Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group

“I am never overly concerned about physicality regarding tackles because that is part and parcel of the game,” said Ross. “It is when you lose focus because of that, which we did a little bit last week. It is important to learn from that.

“Irrespective of how the game goes, it is important that we retain our composure while still being physical and aggressive and competitive.

“It is more about our response to the contact because there will be contact in football matches all the time. But they can’t be sucked in. How they react is important.

“Our disciplinary record was good last season domestically. But we’ve seen how easily you can get yourself into trouble last week with Joe Newell’s red card.”

“For us it is about the mindset, in terms of focus and preparation. We have a group here who we trust in that regard. It is about having a winning culture and they have the drive to go and produce their best all the time.

“I am looking forward to seeing how they deal with playing away from home in Europe. Last week a lot of them were playing in Europe for the first time and this will be their first time travelling to another country to play a game. There is excitement and anticipation.”

And, they will go into the tussle far more streetwise following last week’s lessons learned.

“Every new experience or new challenge you have educates you. You prepare as thoroughly as you can for the opposition based on footage but having that first hand challenge last week has made the players more comfortable in a good way.

“We know what to expect in all aspects of their game.”

But despite the tie being all but over and some observers’ concerns over the recklessness of certain challenges from the Andorran minnows, the HIbs boss says he cannot become too distracted by thoughts of resting too many key personnel ahead of their Premiership kick off on Sunday.

“We want to win the game. We want to keep that momentum and, at this early stage, players are still building up to their complete match fitness so it’s beneficial for them to continue to get minutes ahead of the busy schedule which hopefully includes more European games, league games, League Cup games etc.

‘So we’ll find that balance. We’ll have to make a couple of changes due to Joe’s suspension and Scott Allan’s injury so we’ll add a bit of freshness. But there’s still a good core who’ve stood us in good stead over the recent season and a bit.”

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