Hibs boss Jack Ross plots European return 'season after season' after Rijeka setback

There is nothing Hibs can do to alter the outcome of Thursday night’s European defeat but they can use the experience of playing in that level of competition to feed their desire to book a swift return.

“That’s one of the things we spoke about in the changing room [after the game],” said manager Jack Ross, who will lead his team into League Cup action against Kilmarnock at Easter Road on Sunday. “First of all it’s to get back to this stage again and then second of all, when we get there – be better and win more games.”

The Leith side made it past Andorran side Santa Coloma and despite giving a decent account of themselves against Rijeka of Croatia at home, their hopes of reaching the Conference League play-offs were quashed when they were reduced to 10 men in the second leg.

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“There is a hunger in the group to get back there but we can only get there again by either finishing in a position in the league we did last year or by winning a cup.

Hibs manager Jack Ross during his post-match press conferenece in Rijeka. Photo by Nikola Krstic / SNS Group

“I didn’t want it to just be an experience, I said that before the first game. I wanted it to be something that we progressed in.

“It has definitely whetted the appetite to get here season after season and that’s what Hibs need to do. I think the more often you’re in that type of competition the greater the chance you have of progression. We’ve got different ways we can do that within our season.”

The onus is on Ross to lift his players but he has expressed faith in the strength of spirit within the squad.

“One of the strong messages to the group is that you can’t affect what just happened, you can only affect what lies ahead and we’ve got a big game on Sunday and I want them to show that strong mindset and that they’re not fatigued in anyway because we’ll have a bigger crowd than we’ve had in a long time.

“We’ve had a lot of plaudits recently so people will look at our reaction to this set-back. You know how much faith I have in the players and I believe they will produce a performance that shows they are ready to bounce back quickly.”

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