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Hibernian in ‘best possible frame of mind’ for Hearts semi-final

Hibernian v Rangers – Scottish Premiership – Easter Road
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Hibernian manager Jack Ross believes his side go into the rearranged William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final against Hearts in the “best possible frame of mind”.

The Easter Road club have had an impressive start to the Premiership season, having lost only two from 12 fixtures, and sit third in the table behind leaders Rangers and Celtic.

Ahead of the Edinburgh derby at Hampden Park on Saturday, the former St Mirren and Sunderland boss spoke about his side’s increasing “belief and stature in each passing week.”

He said: “We felt as if the preparations for the season went well.

“At the start of the season we had the little fine margins that you need to set you up for a good season, in terms of a couple of early games that we didn’t play as well as we could have done in but found a way to win the match.

“That grew the belief in terms of picking up points but also understanding that they have the ability to win games in different ways.

“We have gathered momentum with each passing week and the points return that we have is hugely encouraging and I have a group of players that are in the best possible frame of mind.

“They feel good about themselves, but equally they are such a good group and fully understand why they have been good this season and have shown that in their preparations this week and are excited about Saturday’s game.”

The competition was put on hold last season when the coronavirus crisis stopped football in March and a European place was withdrawn.

The semi-finals have been scheduled for this weekend at Hampden Park – holders Celtic play Aberdeen on Sunday – with the final to be played on December 20,  a far cry from the traditional end-of-season showpiece occasion in May.

However, Ross, who said he will have “a couple in and a couple out” of his squad, insists the trophy still retains its status.

He said: “I certainly have not sensed any less excitement and determination
about the players and staff this week.

“So going from the experience of being involved on a day-to-day basis in the lead-up to the semi-final, I would say no, but I can understand why some people might believe that to be the case.

“For us, certainly, the opportunity to reach the final and potentially win a cup has not been devalued at all in terms of the timing of the matches and timing of final should we reach it.”