'The best place I've ever played' - Ofir Marciano happy at Hibs despite hinting at exit to fulfil international ambition
Although he began the season as former boss Paul Heckingbottom’s first choice goalkeeper, Marciano lost his place to Chris Maxwell, the on-loan Preston North End keeper forcing him onto the sidelines for 13 matches.
However, throughout that period Israel head coach Andreas Herzog kept faith in the 30-year-old, playing him in five Euro 2020 matches as his squad set up a play-off match against Scotland at Hampden at the end of March.
While away on international duty Marciano had talked of the importance of regular club football if he was to continue representing his country, the obvious connotation being he may have to leave Easter Road.
"Yeah, very good. I think for me personally I really needed this break. We had a good, intense week, we worked hard and I think now we're ready for the second part of the season."
He said: “I always expect to play but that's in the past now and I'm happy that the gaffer is giving me the chance now. I really appreciate the chance that I got and I'll do the best for him, the team and myself of course.
“You always think about playing but for me, Hibs is the best place that I've ever played. Hibs are in my heart. I like the fans, I like the club and the people here.
“Sometimes there are situations that aren't up to me but I'm always going to have something for this club. At the moment I'm playing and I’m happy to be here.That's the most important thing.
"As a professional football player you always face challenges. But you're judged on how you deal with it. I would like to think that I'd dealt with it well. Even though I wasn't in the Hibs team, I did well in the national team so that kept me on my toes."
While Maxwell seeks a new club, Marciano has been joined again at Easter Road by Hungarian internationalist Adam Bogdan who, while on loan from Liverpool last season, shared goalkeeping duties with him.
Bogdan, who arrived back on a short-term contract, is expected to pen a longer term deal once Maxwell’s future is settled, and teamed up with Ross’ squad during last week’s training camp on the Costa del Sol.
Admitting he’d found the scenario “a bit weird,” the former Ashdod player said: “Me and Adam are good friends outside of football as well. We keep pushing each other all the time. You saw that last year and I feel good now that he's back.
"To be fair it had been a bit weird but I was happy to see him! It sounds funny but I was really happy to see him back. It's a good environment between me and him.
“First of all you have to push yourself all the time as a professional footballer, but it's good to have a great 'keeper like him next to you."
Marciano and Bogdan shared the goalkeeping duties as Hibs wrapped up their six-day stay in Spain with a 2-1 win over Dutch club Willem II and the break, he believes, will stand the capital club in good stead as they head into the second half of the season aiming to improve on theri current sixth place in the Premiership table.
He said: “It was very good. I think for me personally I really needed the break. We had a good, intense week, we worked hard, it helped me build my fitness, build my sharpness
and I think now we're ready for the second part of the season.
“We want a good run of games and try to get as many points as we can. I think we have a good team. Hibs always have ambitions to finish in the top three or four. That's going to be our aim."