REACTION: Jack Ross provides Doig update and reflects on Rijeka
Jack Ross speaks about his team’s performance, injury concerns and Josh Doig’s future after Thursday’s stalemate versus HNK Rijeka. Cameron Wanstall reports.
Martin Boyle was the Hibs hero on Thursday evening as over 5,000 Hibees returned to Easter Road to witness a 1-1 draw against Croatian side HNK Rijeka in the UEFA Europa Conference League third qualifying round.
Prince Ampem gave the visitors a surprise lead on the hour mark, before Boyle hit back almost immediately to level things up heading into next week’s reverse fixture.
Despite the overwhelming feeling that the hosts should have been taking a lead with them to Croatia next Thursday, Hibs manager Jack Ross was very pleased with his side’s showing:
“First of all, I thought it was a good game. Second, I thought we were excellent. The only frustration lies in the end result because I think we deserved to win the game with the opportunities we created.
“I’m delighted with the performance level. It means we will travel next week with confidence and belief that we can go and win the tie.”
Hibs failed to capitalise on the plenty of chances they created, the most memorable being a Dan MacKay one-on-one in stoppage time that the youngster fired directly at Nediljko Labrović. However, Ross refused to put any blame on his summer signing for the miss:
“It’s a big chance, but for Dan, he gets in those positions often as a very young man and he’ll be hard on himself for not taking it. But he finds himself in those positions and he’s got to continue to do that.
“Over the course of the game, we had a lot of good opportunities – not just that one in the final minute that probably catches the eye a little bit more.”
Ross had previously spoken of the maturity needed at European level and was happy to elaborate further after a tough first leg versus Rijeka:
“I think the players having the earlier round and those two legs was good for us. Because of the level of opposition, it allowed us to ease ourselves into the challenges of it.
“It’s a strange feeling because people point to you not winning this first leg and how that leaves us, but it’s very difficult for me to complain about any part of the performance.”
Nisbet received treatment after an incident in the opposition box and was substituted soon after, though Ross is hopeful it is nothing more than a knock:
“Just a dead leg. Impact injury. Should be okay but the turnaround of games for us at the moment is pretty quick. We’ll see how he reports tomorrow morning. Hopefully by the time Sunday comes it’ll start to ease again.”
Lastly, Ross gave an update on Josh Doig, who was an unused substitute in Thursday evening’s clash. Ross had previously stated the young left-back was “highly likely” to leave the club after leaving him out of the matchday squad for the league opener versus Motherwell on Sunday:
“As I said at the weekend, we were strongly led to believe that things would move quickly. They haven’t done. So in essence, when somebody doesn’t walk the walk, then we need to take control of the situation again. For me, that means having all the good players in my squad. And also, Josh wanted to be involved. He wants to play football, he just wants clarity.
“From now, he will be part of my squad unless something changes. What we were led to believe didn’t materialise and now it’s about him showing good form to return to the team and push from there.”