Jack Ross has said he is excited by the prospect of more European football, and balancing domestic challenges, after Hibs beat Santa Coloma 5-1 on aggregate to advance in the Europa Conference League.
The Edinburgh side held a 3-0 advantage from the first leg but goals from Jamie Murphy and Daniel MacKay ensured another win Andorra after the hosts had taken a surprise lead.
The team now faces Croatian side Rijeka in the third qualifying round but first of all they’ll face Motherwell at Fir Park in their opening Premiership fixture on Sunday.
Ross believes his team now face a step up in quality of opposition but also the demands of playing twice a week in different and important competitions.
“We spoke to the players [about playing Thursday-Sunday] and they are honest enough to know that they will have to be better to win on Sunday, but they’re also more than capable of doing that,” he said.
“They’re good players and physically they are capable of meeting that challenge it’s just about mentally maintaining that strength.”
And the head coach said that he thought those particular demands were part of the test that comes with success and that he was happy that all areas of the club work to support the team and help them cope with the challenges ahead.
“I think physically the players are now well-educated and have good support from a medical and performance perspective, which makes my job easier, and the players understand the importance of it and how to do it properly. The new challenge will be to believe that they can go and produce performances back-to-back and so quickly.
“I have admiration for clubs that progressed in Europe in recent seasons and produced domestically, because it’s not easy to do.
“Even taking into account, for example, travelling to Andorra and back is not an easy thing to do, so that’s been new.
“But we’re excited by it. I would much rather stay in Europe and face this challenge and see how we cope with it.
“Hopefully the squad can as well, and we’re still working to strengthen the squad because you need to if you’re going to make face that challenge.
“I’m delighted that we’ve got another European tie to look forward to, and the aim will be to progress through that one.”
Reflecting on the win over Santa Coloma, Ross said: “I’m really pleased to win the tie this evening, and pleased to win the tie overall, and comfortably.
“I’m a little bit disappointed at bits tonight. I’m disappointed that we go behind, obviously, but the reaction was good.
“Winning games is an important habit, and to win these two opening matches in Europe is pleasing for us.”