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Hibernian boss Jack Ross targeting European return after Rijeka disappointment

Hibernian v Rijeka – UEFA Europa Conference League – Third Qualifying Round – First Leg – Easter Road Stadium
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Hibernian head coach Jack Ross immediately set his sights on securing a return to European football after their disappointment in Croatia.

Hibs were tied with Rijeka three-quarters of the way through the second leg of their Europa Conference League tie but went on to suffer a 5-2 aggregate defeat after Darren McGregor’s red card.

Ross rued missed chances in the 1-1 first-leg draw and challenged his players to do better in European competition next season.

“That was one of the things we spoke about in the changing room, that first of all was to get back to this stage again, and second of all, when we get there to be better and win more games,” said Ross ahead of Sunday’s Premier Sports Cup tie against Kilmarnock.

“There’s a lot over the two legs we could be happy about but the scoreline, we are not, and the manner in which we defended, we are not.

“It was a sore one because over the two legs we put a lot into it but we have the hunger to get there again and we can only get there by either finishing in the position in the league we did last season or by winning a cup, and the latter starts for us on Sunday.”

Ross is confident his players will not let the disappointment linger.

“That’s one of the strong messages to the group, that you can never affect what’s just happened, you can only affect what lies ahead,” he said.

“We have a big game on Sunday and I want them to show that strength of mindset that they are not fatigued in any way, because we will have a bigger crowd then we have had for a long time at Easter Road for a game, and we have a duty to put on a performance for them.

“We have had a lot of plaudits recently so then people will look at the reaction to a setback.

“You know how much faith I have got in the group of players that I work with and I believe they will absolutely produce a performance on Sunday that shows that they are ready to bounce back quickly.”

Christian Doidge will miss out again on Sunday and will undergo a scan on a training-ground injury.

Paul Hanlon (concussion) is likely to miss out again but Scott Allan is available after being unable to fly to Croatia.

Melker Hallberg (knee), Chris Cadden (thigh) and Sean Mackie (foot) remain on the sidelines.