The Rangers result was the side’s first domestic defeat of the season and having proved adept at bouncing back from any blips last term, Ross is hoping for the same resilience as they try to further improve a home record that took a bit of a dunt during the empty stadium era.
“I think the players recognise the good things about their performance and going alongside results we’ve had this season I do think they’re in a good frame of mind. The break was okay for us, it allowed us to draw breath again. We have trained well, albeit with a fragmented squad due to internationals etc. So, we’re a good side in a good place and want to get back to winning games and go on another unbeaten run.”
It is just over three weeks since a 3-1 victory over United saw Hibs progress to their fifth successive cup semi final, booking another meeting with Steven Gerrard’s men at Hampden later next month. Goals from Joe Newell, Scott Allan and Martin Boyle made it a relatively comfortable evening but even in front of a home crowd, Ross expects a close contest.
“They’re a good side and I’ve been impressed by them this season. I think there was an element of the unexpected with Thomas [Courts] taking the job. But I think they’ve grown in confidence and stature as the season has gone on. The game at Tannadice was tough and since then they’ve achieved good results as well.”
“There was a draw with Celtic in Glasgow and a home win over Ross County.
“It will be a tough game but our home record has been good. It was something we wanted to improve on from last season and thus far, in this campaign, we have backed ourselves to go and perform.”
He admitted that there are one or two niggling injuries causing some concern, while Martin Boyle only returned from Australian duties on Thursday and will be monitored. But, with Ryan Porteous serving a two-match suspension, Ross already knows that change will be required.
Until now Porteous has been a regular starter, making the opening line-up in all 14 games in all competitions, but as well as Darren McGregor, Ross has January signing Nathan Wood available.
“Losing Ryan is not ideal because he has been terrific for me. Darren has played a number of times this season and has always acquitted himself well and Nathan is a young man who has had to be patient. He’s played a game and a half for the England Under-20s in the international period and performed well and if he gets the opportunity [against United] I’m sure it’s one he will look to take because he came here to play games. He’s now going to get that chance through circumstances and it is up to him to try to stay in the team.”