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Jack Ross confident Hibernian are perfectly prepared for Rijeka showdown

Hibernian v Arsenal – Pre Season Friendly – Easter Road
(Image credit: Ian Rutherford)

Jack Ross believes Hibernian flew to Croatia for their Europa Conference League clash against Rijeka on Thursday in the “best possible frame of mind”.

The Edinburgh side were held to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their third qualifier at Easter Road last week, the only blip in five competitive games this season.

Hibs have won their other four fixtures including home and away wins in the previous qualifier against Andorran side Santa Coloma, which gives Ross confidence for the match in the Stadion Rujevica.

The Hibs boss will have Scotland striker Kevin Nisbet back in contention after missing the 3-0 cinch Premiership win over Ross County at the weekend with a knock.

“We feel as if, in the main, we carried momentum from last season into this season although the last game (Scottish Cup final defeat) was disappointing for us,” Ross said.

“It was important that we started this season in a positive way, we have done that, we did it in pre-season and in the early-season results but also our form has been good as well.

“We have travelled here in the best possible frame of mind in terms of where the players are at performance-wise.

“We went into the first game with that clear-headedness about what we wanted to do and I think we produced a performance that reflected that.

“It will be the same for us tomorrow in terms of preparation and I am looking forward to playing away in Europe in front of a crowd with an atmosphere as in the previous round there was really no one in attendance.

“So that will be different but I have a squad of players who are well used to playing in front of big crowds at difficult venues, through the league and international games, so I think they will relish it tomorrow.”

Ross, in his first foray into Europe as a manager, believes the scrapping of the rule which declares away goals in Europe count as double in the event of a draw lends itself to more open and expansive football.

The former St Mirren and Sunderland boss said: “Obviously I can’t speak from great experience of it but already it seems to point towards that being the case.

“If you look at this game for example, would it be more troublesome us coming with the away goal rule (still in place)?

“It would be obviously so I think the first leg almost becomes redundant in terms of the way the game is played.

“I definitely think it is a positive rule change, it allows the games, particularly in the second leg, to be more open and attractive.”