Jack Ross: I'll have Hibs in on Christmas Day - but there's no right or wrong
Easter Road outfit to train when Hearts have the day off
Hibs head coach Jack Ross has revealed that his players will be at their East Mains training base as usual tomorrow preparing for the derby while Capital rivals Hearts enjoy Christmas Day at home with their families.
New Tynecastle boss Daniel Stendel, whose side is rooted to the foot of the Ladbrokes Premeiership table after suffering three straight defeats since replacing Craig Levein, followed the same approach last year when he was in charge of Barnsley and enjoyed a 2-0 victory over Peterborough United on Boxing Day.
While Stendel saw no reason to alter his approach, Ross refused to become embroiled in a debate as to the relative merits of giving players the day off before such a crucial match.
“I don’t think it will make a difference,” he said. “If you were to ask every manager in the Premiership just now about their working week, you’d get six or seven different answers about when players should be off, when they are off, what time they train etc.
“I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. It comes down to who plays better in matches and that’s it. People think your only choices are what team you pick and what subs you make on a matchday, but there’s a huge amount more that goes into it and one of those is your schedule on a weekly basis.
“I wasn’t aware of it (Stendel’s decision) and it’s neither here nor there for me. I’ve done it in the past when I’ve given boys it off as well – I hope my players don’t read this!”
Ross will be without Ryan Porteous, suspended after being shown a straight red card in the 3-0 defeat by Rangers on Friday night, his ordering off resulting in Darren McGregor, who hadn’t played since mid-August following an abdominal injury, making a return to action and along, with fellow central defender Adam Jackson, will be under consideration for a starting place in Gorgie.
So too will be club captain David Gray who has also been sidelined for the past four months, in his case by a knee problem and, he insisted, he’s desperate to play although Ross also has Jason Naismith and Tom James vying for the right-back berth.
Gray said: “It’s up to the manger but I’ve been training for the last two and a half weeks.”
And while Hearts go into the second derby of the season three points adrift at the foot of the table, Gray insisted he and his team-mates are only concerned with getting back to winning ways after disappointing results against Celtic and Rangers. He said: “Regardless of the league position, form or whatever division you are in, the Edinburgh derby is massive, particularly at Tynecastle.
“The boys enjoy going there and at this time of year. It’s important for us after two disappointing results, we are desperate to put that right and there’s no place better than Tynecastle to do it.
“The atmosphere will be electric, the boys who have not played there will be told what it’s all about by the boys who have. It will be fast and frenetic. But I love playing in these atmospheres.”
Sitting in the stand watching rather than playing will, believes Gray, allow Scotland Under-21 stopper Porteous to reflect on his rash challenge on Borna Barisic which brought his second red card of the season and also provoked not only a skirmish in the technical areas but that well-publicised bottle-throwing incident.
Gray said: “The biggest disappointment for him will be missing the derby, growing up a Hibs fan to play in the derby at Tynecastle would have been a big thing for him. There are fine lines. The top centre-halves in the world are all aggressive, you need that to get to the top. He’s a young boy, but he has to learn.”