With European football to look forward to next season, he said that none of the players being linked with big-money transfers in the summer have shown any sign of wanting to depart and to he maintains that despite their Scottish Cup disappointment, there remain plenty of positives to build on
“I don’t want us to go and tread water,” said Ross “I’ve been constant with this and I’ve got the guts to do it. Not every Hibs manager has, but I have set big ambitions and I’ve got the guts to say that I don’t want to qualify for Europe just to play two games.
“We want to go to stay in the tournament, irrespective of which one we’re in. That’s the driver for us. We need to put together a squad to prepare in a manner that allows us to do that.”
There are strong suggestions that he will have to recruit well over the close-season, with Kevin Nisbet, Ryan Porteous, Martin Boyle and Josh Doig all the subject of transfer speculation in the build up to the cup final, while Ofir Marciano will leave and Jackson Irvine has yet to commit to a new deal.
“I think a lot of it was media driven, which was interesting in the build-up to a final,” said Ross. “Not a single one of those players has given me any indication they felt that was their last game.
“Now, that might prove to be the case because there are a lot of things outwith my control that can happen over the next few weeks. But never was it in anybody’s thoughts that that group was splitting up after this.
“We’ll see what the next few weeks bring. It’s my job to put together the puzzle pieces, whether it’s that same group or I need to make changes to it.
“But, when you have a season like we’ve had you want to keep them together and strengthen and improve. If we lose our good players then that makes us weaker and we have to find replacements.
“For me selfishly as a manager I want to keep the group together. But I’m sensible enough to know that’s not just my decision. We’ll see what the coming weeks and months bring.”
There was disappointed at the way the season ended without silverware to show for it, but Ross was quick to defend his players and the effort expended,
“The thing we stressed at half-time was that if they were to lose this final that they had come back in with nothing left to give, and they did. They didn’t have anything left to give physically.
“I can’t have any complaints about that. Sometimes you play better than others as individual players for a multitude of reasons. But today we fell short.
“Unless you’ve been there you don’t know the feeling. My players have been outstanding this season so I would be highly protective. I’m proud of the players and I said that to them. If they get criticised I’ll back them because I’m proud of what they’ve given me all season.”