Jack Ross hails Kevin Nisbet call-up

Jack Ross took charge of his 250th game as a manager on Saturday.

The 2-1 defeat of Ross County was our 10th win on the road this season in the Premiership and strengthened the grip on third spot.

As much as he enjoyed those well-earned three points in Dingwall, he took as much satisfaction from being able to break the news of a first international call-up to an overjoyed Kevin Nisbet in a quiet moment before training at the Hibernian Training Centre on Tuesday.

Having worked his way through the ranks in Scottish football as a player and manager, Ross is better placed than most to relate to Nisbet’s own journey.

The striker is the first to admit that he let an early opportunity at Partick Thistle slip away, but the early setback would not define him.

Goal-laden spells at Raith Rovers and Dunfermline secured him a second chance at the top-flight with The Hibees and he hasn’t looked back.

Fourteen goals – including the difference-maker in Dingwall – caught the attention of national team boss Steve Clarke, who has turned to the 24-year-old ahead of the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers – with the Euros looming large on the horizon.

Ross thinks Nisbet has only scratched the surface of his full potential but is pleased that decisiveness from both parties last summer has paid off.

He said: “Kevin was someone I really wanted to bring to Hibernian and I’m grateful for the support I had within the club in terms of making that happen.

“I thought he had the all-round qualities to become a really good player and I’ve thought that since I first tried to sign him on loan for Alloa when he was at Partick Thistle.

“There’s a lot more to him than simply scoring goals. He’s a good footballer and the exciting thing for me is that he’s still got areas to improve in, like any player. The best is yet to come.

“There are plenty of challenging moments as a manager, so you have to enjoy the good times.

“So, it was a pleasure to be able to sit down and break the news to Kevin about his Scotland call-up, because he’s earned it.

“It made me think about the first conversation we had about him coming here.

“The challenge and the opportunity was for Kevin to help us compete for trophies, qualify for European football and win a place in the Scotland squad.

“He’s had a good go at that in the space of his first few months at Easter Road.”

It’s no overnight success and he’s had help along the way from team-mates and staff alike at HTC.

Ross added: “When you bring in a talented player from the Championship, people maybe assume it’s a given that everything will go to plan but there aren’t many players whose development follows a straight line like that.

“This has Kevin’s first chance to play at this level consistently, while dealing with the pressure of playing for a big club.

“Like any young player, you have to manage him through that professional challenge and the personal challenge he’s had with the loss of his father, which I think he’s spoken about with real maturity.

“Hopefully, we’ve managed those challenges pretty well and it’s a good reflection of our model and – I think – the wider Scottish game.

“Raith Rovers helped him, Dunfermline helped him and, in turn, benefited when we signed Kevin in the summer.

“Now he’s in the Scotland squad. All those experiences along the way have helped shape him.

“His team-mates have helped. For example, he’ll look at someone like Christian Doidge and note the unselfish side of the game. What a striker can do to help the team.

“The whole environment has been good for him. Kevin’s part of a stable, level-headed group and that group is proud of him this week – as we have been all season.”

from @HibernianFC