Hibs will follow Livingston and search lower leagues for stars

Jack Ross believes there are gems to find

Saturday, 22nd February 2020, 6:00 am
Hibs head coach Jack Ross spent some of his playing career in the junior leagues

Jack Ross has insisted Hibs won’t ignore the lower reaches of Scottish football in their search for new signings, revealing he’s “pleased” to see players who’ve moved up through the leagues with Livingston flourishing in the Premiership.

And he believes their story can act as an inspiration for others who aspire to play in the top flight, citing the story of Lions midfielder Scott Pittman who began his career in the ranks of the juniors - just as he did.

Adamant his own life story has made him aware of the quality within the lower leagues, the Hibs head coach said: “Although I had been at Dundee, I really started properly with Clyde and then as a manager with Dumbarton and Alloa so I know first hand that there is quality within those leagues, in terms of players, coaches and managers.

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“It is difficult to get that opportunity at the higher levels. You’ve got to be good enough but equally you’ve got to be given the opportunity. So, to see the players that have been on that journey with Livingston still there is pleasing.

“The fact they are enjoying being successful Premiership players is testament not just to their ability but also their strength of character that they have been able to go on that journey as well.

“There are loads of different paths you can take towards being a top flight player and I know that first hand. It is nice if your career just goes in an upward trajectory or if you can start high and stay in that position but, the reality is there are lots of different ways.

“Guys like Scott Pittman, is an example of that. He’s a guy who has played junior, a level I played at, and has gone back to play in the Premiership. That is pleasing and also offers that hope to other players as well.”

Ross insisted bigger clubs shouldn’t ignore that there are bargains to be had and that it was something he’d ensure Hibs will remain alert to that fact. He said: “I am a big advocate of that and if you speak to anyone around this club they will tell you that it is close to what we are looking to do moving forward.

“I think it is an area which I’m not saying we have neglected, but going forward we need to make sure we cover all the bases because there are good players down the leagues.

“They maybe won’t grab as many headlines as players from another league or another country, but there are good players out there. And it’s not just a case of bringing them in, but also of being patient with them because some players hit the ground running and others need a period of adjustment.

“But there are definitely good players and not just ones at 18 but others who are maybe late developers and are maybe worth taking a chance on.

Only one point separates Hibs from fifth placed Livingston, today’s match giving the city side the chance to leapfrog their visitors, a team which beat them last time they met and which came within a minute of winning last time they were at Easter Road. Convinced his side are now better equipped than when they were beaten 2-0 at the Tony Macaroni Arena in December – a performance Ross rated as one of this season’s biggest disappointments – he said: “When you get to this point in the season you are probably where you are in the league for a reason.

“There’s 11 games left and to suggest otherwise (that they are not top-six contenders) would be inaccurate. Now they will be wanting to stay there and I think they have given themselves every chance of finishing in the top six.

“There’s little margin for error in terms of making sure we finish in the top half.”