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Jack Ross backs misfiring Hibernian striker to find shooting boots in Perth

Jack Ross File Photo
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Jack Ross has backed misfiring Hibernian striker Kevin Nisbet to ride out his current barren spell and help get his struggling team back on track.

The 24-year-old Scotland attacker has scored only once in his last 10 games for Hibs and missed some good chances as they suffered a fifth consecutive cinch Premiership defeat at Ross County in midweek.

However, manager Ross insists he has full faith in Nisbet to rediscover his scoring touch as he prepares to lead the attack at St Johnstone on Saturday in the absence of suspended colleagues Martin Boyle and Christian Doidge, with the latter losing an appeal against his Dingwall red card.

He said: “I always feel with Kevin that he will score in a game. I never select him or bring him on thinking he won’t score. He’s a good finisher and he gets opportunities. I think he’s frustrated at the moment because he prides himself on his goal return.

“Not just here but over the last three or four seasons, his goals-per-game ratio has been excellent. It’s a tough period for him but we’ve retained a lot of faith in him, and he knows that.

“I think he feels performance-wise the semi-final (against Rangers on Sunday) and big parts of Wednesday night were good, and that’s why he got himself into those positions. He’s just got to keep doing it and he’ll back himself to score. He’ll believe and I believe that once that first one comes it will set him off on a run.”

Ross believes Hibs’ performances are not reflective of the fact they have lost each of their last five league games but he acknowledges they must do more to snap out of the rut.

He said: “From a coaching point of view, you break it down into games and some of them within that run have been poor but some of the performances have been OK and you don’t always get what you deserve, whether that’s a point or three points.

“Wednesday was the clearest example of that because I don’t think we deserved to lose. When you’re in that run, we need, for example, some of the chances we had in the first half to go in, you need the one that came off the outside of the post to go off the inside of the post etc.

“You’ve got to make your own luck though. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We need to acknowledge that we need to be better to start winning games again in the league.”

Ross is comfortable with his remaining options at centre-back after England Under-20 international Nathan Wood – who made just one appearance for Hibs – cut short his loan spell this week and returned to parent club Middlesbrough.

He said: “We need to ensure here that we have a group here that are really driven towards Hibs being a successful team. It’s important to have that culture within your group.

“We have other options in that area of the park – Paul McGinn, Josh Doig and Alex Gogic can also play centre-back – so we’re OK in that respect. We feel as if we’re well equipped enough to deal with any challenges until hopefully we can reinforce the squad at the beginning of January.

“It (Wood’s loan) just didn’t pan out as both parties would have hoped so there’s no point in prolonging that disappointment, if you like.”

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