The Australian international signed in January and, despite 10 months without competitive action due to the first coronavirus lockdown and then his refusal to agree a contract extension at Hull City, he hit the ground running in Edinburgh and has been a virtual ever-present in the Hibs team, impressing fans as well as his team-mates and manager.
There had been no real expectation of being able to hold onto the 28-year-old beyond the end of this campaign, but now the mutually-beneficial short-term association could be extended after Ross sat down with Irvine to gauge his thoughts.
“Speaking to him, I think he has probably enjoyed it more than he anticipated and it has been good for him and it has given him a lot to think about. What we have done is put ourselves in a competitive position to try to keep him at the club and we didn’t think we would be in that position and he probably didn’t think we would be when he first signed.
“But a by-product of how well we have done this season is that we now have a chance of keeping him at the club.
“He obviously has a good pedigree in England and he is an Australian international and that helps open a global market, with places like the Far East and Middle East as well, where there are financial benefits. So, he does have a lot to think about but the conversations we have now had allows us to now open discussions on the contractual side of it and we go into those knowing that we have a chance.”
As well as enjoying the set-up, the management style and the togetherness of the squad, the promise of a prolonged European run, and the possibility of domestic silverware, and the combined draw of himself and fellow Aussie Martin Boyle ensuring neither are likely to disappear off the international manager’s radar provide incentives, but Ross concedes there is still much for the midfielder to consider.
“All those things he is aware of. He is a switched-on guy. He has seen how we work and how we are trying to keep moving forward and improve and he knows we have a good side so that’s not a difficult sell. There are a lot of things that are positive about the club at the moment and this has become a serious consideration for him.
“He has played pretty much every game since he came to the club, on the back of a 10 month absence. He still made a good impression so we believe that if he goes into the new season on the back of a full pre-season we can expect him to raise his standards even higher.
“So what we do now is we put in front of him the best deal we can do within our structure, like we did with Ofir [Marciano]. It is up to them to then judge if they think it is appropriate or not and that depends on individual circumstances and the stage of their life. We just need to hope it is enough when everything else is taken into consideration.”