Jack Ross keen for Hibernian to secure third place

Jack Ross File Photo
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Hibernian boss Jack Ross admits the chance to clinch third place in the Premiership against St Johnstone on Saturday is a “massive incentive” for his side.

With three fixtures remaining, Hibs are six points ahead of fourth-placed Aberdeen with a superior goal difference and matters could be settled at the weekend.

Ross acknowledged an exciting period of the season for the Leith club with a Scottish Cup semi-final against Dundee United at Hampden Park to look forward to the following week.

First, he is keen to ensure the Easter Road club finish third for the first time since 2005 even though the chance to play in the Europa League has gone unless they win the Scottish Cup, with only a place in the newly created Europa Conference League from the second qualifying round for third and fourth.

“It would be big for us, I’m not going to play that down,” said Ross.

“I know that some people will say the prize at stake in European competition has altered somewhat but for us, when we set that target at the beginning, it was never anything to do with that.

“It was about finishing in a position in the league that the club hasn’t done so in 15/16 years so that was huge for us.

“It has been a massive driver for us all season, the playing group will tell you that. We spoke about it constantly and prodded them to get there.

“We are in touching distance, we still have work to do to ensure we finish there but it is a massive incentive for us to clinch that third spot, it has been a big motivation for us all season.”

St Johnstone go into the game on the back of a Scottish Cup quarter-final win over Rangers at Ibrox last week.

That shock result meant neither of the Old Firm clubs were involved in the semi-final draw which also paired St Mirren with the McDiarmid Park outfit.

Ross, however, is not buying into conventional wisdom which says the cup has now opened up.

Hibs are favourites to win the trophy for the first time since 2016 but the former St Mirren and Sunderland boss said: “It hasn’t changed in my opinion.

“It would be incredibly weak of us if we believed we could only win the competition if neither of those teams were in it.

“For us, we spoke about winning the cup with all the teams involved since the beginning so it hasn’t altered our thought process in that respect.

“It makes no difference to me whether we are favourites or rank outsiders, our preparation when the game comes along will be as consistent as it has been for all games this season.

“There is a massive motivation for us to get to a final and we have a group who want to put themselves in the history books of the club as will all the players of the three other clubs who remain in the competition.”

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1