Jack Ross reveals centre-half pursuit as Hibs defeat to Rijeka highlights need for new recruits
Hibs manager Jack Ross flatly denied that his side’s European exit at the hands of Croatian side Rijeka would pave the way for a player exodus but admitted it had underlined the need for new recruits.
Paul Hanlon, Scott Allan and Christian Doidge all missed out on the second leg of the Conference League qualifier, with the captain suffering from concussion, the midfielder unable to travel for health reasons and their striker picking up a potentially-serious injury in training on Wednesday that will require a scan on the team’s return to Edinburgh.
That left the Hibs boss with limited options, especially when Hanlon’s replacement, Darren McGregor, was sent off 24 minutes from the end of a match that was finely-balanced at that time.
“I think when we reflect on the tie overall there are a couple of key aspects. One not coming here with a lead from the opportunities we created at Easter Road. We went toe to toe with a good team in their own stadium but we can’t defend the way we did as a whole team. We need to be more robust in games.
“It was a sore one for us because we put a lot into it.”
The red card signalled a huge turnaround, though, as the team eventually succumbed to a 4-1 (5-2 aggregate) defeat, strengthening the Hibs manager’s desire for another central defender and a striker.
“To be fair I have wanted [an additional centre-half] for a long time now, for this reason. With Paul’s injury and Darren’s sending off, the only recognised central defender we had left was young Jack Brydon and I felt it was unfair to throw him into that environment. So, it doesn’t accelerate our search, it just highlights the need for it. But it has not changed the thinking I have had for a long time that we need that cover and competition in those areas.”
That includes the frontline. “Just like centre-backs we know the areas we need depth and quality and we are pushing to do that. I think tonight brings to the forefront how quickly we need to do that.
“If it’s the case with Christian that [the injury] is serious then it’s a big blow and something we need to evolve the squad to deal with.”