Alex Gogic issued reminder of integral role at Hibs as midfielder sets Euro target
Returning from an ankle injury, Alex Gogic had to bide his time at the weekend. Instead of walking straight back into the starting line-up, he had to content himself with a second-half substitute appearance.
But, having been sidelined for almost a month with a niggling ankle injury, his manager Jack Ross made sure to remind him of the integral role he has performed in the cub’s impressive start to the season and will, undoubtedly, continue to play.
“Because the period he has had with an injury, and it coinciding with a good period of form, it meant he returned to the bench, but I said to him: 'don’t forget where you were in the summer and where you are now’ – the impression he has made at a club of this stature and the international recognition he has had alongside that.
“Already, in six months, he has played a big part in us competing towards the top of the table and been capped for Cyprus. That is terrific progress.”
And it has coincided with Hibs improvement in the Premiership standings and addressed one of the notable void’s in the squad Ross inherited.
“He has settled in well and is undoubtedly a big asset for me to have in my squad,” added Ross of the club’s pre-eminent central defensive midfielder, “and he will play a big part over the second half of the season.”
Maintaining the lines of communication is a significant part of Ross’ man-management style and while he admits he was angry after the weekend result, as his men threw away two points in a game against Dundee United that they dominated, the togetherness and mutual respect has solidified the team spirit.
“The communication aspect of this job is vital. You can be a natural communicator or you can work at it but it just so happens that I like talking, so it’s okay for me!
“By and large, I feel like I have good relationships with my players, even the ones who aren’t playing all the time, and I’m conscious of how they are feeling and where they see themselves at any given time.
“It’s very easy to have a conversation with someone when things are going well, but I’m mindful of the challenges faced by those who are not in the team, or injured or whatever the issue may be.
“It’s a bit similar with Josh Doig. I speak to him regularly about where he was in the summer and where he is now, albeit he has not played as regularly recently. But the progress he has made has been excellent.”
That positivity transmits to the players, who have bought into Ross’ management approach and rewarded him with the kind of season they targeted in the summer; one where they are able to bloody a few noses and compete at the top end of the league table.
It makes a change for Gogic, who, in his years at Hamilton, was more used to the relegation dogfight. This season, though, it is cup semi-finals and the ongoing quest for a European place that occupies the mind.
“I have really enjoyed it since the first day I came. It’s a different kind of pressure compared to Hamilton and I like it.
“Maybe if the teams around us were all really close then there would be that same pressure. But it means you can enjoy it a little bit more. When you are relaxed you achieve things more easily.
“The demands are still there but they are heightened by expectation rather than desperation.
“The reaction to Saturday shows that. Everyone was gutted and angry, not just at that game but we lost a late goal to Celtic, too. We have set high standards and we know what we want to achieve.
“My ambition is to play in Europe and I think we are getting there, we are in a really good position. We just have to keep doing what we are doing and hopefully we will finish where we want to come the end of the season.”
Saturday’s frustration stemmed from the side’s inability to put the match out of United’s reach, allowing the visitors to rattle them with the late, late suckerpunch. But, they face St Mirren on Wednesday with the opportunity to right those wrongs or at least minimise the damage done.
“We know as players and staff that what we did and how we played wasn’t reflected in the outcome. We had so many chances and if we continue playing like that the results will come,” Gogic added.
But, form side and fellow Betfred Cup semi finalists St Mirren, who are on a nine-game unbeaten run, won’t make it easy but if Hibs want to achieve their goals they need to keep picking up points.
“Coming to Hibs was one of my goals and dreams, to come to a bigger club in Scotland, " said Gogic.
“I had teams from Europe but I like the league here and the chance to go to a bigger club and have a chance to potentially play in Europe was one of my main targets.
“And getting my first international call-up was another dream I achieved. So, I’m just grateful, really.
“My next target is to win some silverware, we were in the Scottish Cup semi-final, now we are in the Betfred Cup semis. Hopefully we can take the next step and get to a final and win it.
“And then getting into Europe and doing well when we get there, trying to get through the qualifiers and reach the group stages.
“That won’t be easy, but it is a target to try and achieve. If we do the work we have been doing we can do it.”
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