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Jack Ross urges Hibernian to be more ruthless in defence

Rangers v Hibernian – Premier Sports Cup – Semi-Final – Hampden Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Hibernian head coach Jack Ross admits they need to get back to the sort of “ruthless” defending which helped them finish third in the league last season.

Hibs have not kept a clean sheet in their previous nine matches ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Livingston.

The Leith side have recorded four clean sheets in their 15 cinch Premiership games – only Aberdeen have fewer to their name.

Having kept 15 in 38 league games last season, the difference this time out means Hibs still lie in the bottom six, although that will change if they win the first of two games in hand on Wednesday evening.

“The most obvious thing for us to look at is the fact that our clean sheet record was so good last season, and that resulted in us finishing where we did in the table,” Ross said.

“At times this season we feel as if we have played better, we have probably looked more creative, even as recently as the weekend. But we haven’t kept enough clean sheets.

“That record is something we need to improve upon, particularly games recently where we have defended well yet still conceded.

“We just need to have that ruthlessness in defending our box because it’s vitally important, particularly in a league as competitive as this.

“It was a real foundation for us in having a successful league season last year and we need to get back to doing it.”

Ross has pored over the reasons for the disappointing record.

“Sometimes that’s even more frustrating, because you can look for individuals dropping off in form or obvious weaknesses as a unit,” he said. “We have played a back three and a back four.

“There are times when in the main we have not given up a lot of opportunities but we have not managed to defend our box well enough.

“We are continually searching for the way to do that, although the amount of work we can do on the training pitch just now is very limited at the moment given the number of games.

“But it’s trusting what the players have done in the past and that they have the capabilities of doing it again.”

Hibs face a Livingston team on the back of a three-match losing streak. But David Martindale’s side pushed Rangers and Hearts especially in their two most recent home games.

“Their record over recent seasons has been brilliant, and maybe at times they are not given enough credit for how effective they are,” Ross said.

“It always is (tough), for the all the teams in the league. We saw that as recently as the weekend. For the majority of the game, the Livingston performance was really strong and positive.

“We know from previous seasons how difficult a match it is, but we travel knowing the importance of a win to us, and also looking to replicate large parts of our performances in recent games as well.”

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