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Why Jack Ross is ‘better prepared’ for Dundee United European challenge after Hibs experience

Jack Ross was eliminated from Europe by Rijeka with Hibs last season
Jack Ross was eliminated from Europe by Rijeka with Hibs last season

Jack Ross insists he is better equipped to lead Dundee United’s European charge following his experience with Hibernian last term.

United will enter the Europa Conference League at the third qualifying round, with the ties taking place on August 4 and 11.

The Tangerines — back in continental competition for the first time in a decade — will learn their potential opponents when the draw is made on July 18.

However, with United unseeded, an onerous challenge almost certainly awaits.

That was the case for Ross last season, with his Hibs side defeated 5-2 on aggregate by a classy Rijeka outfit. That result came after the capital club had comfortably seen off Santa Coloma in the previous round.

And Ross believes that brief sojourn into Europe was a formative one.

“You learn from dealing with the proximity of games — playing Thursday-Sunday-Thursday,” explained Ross.

“Then you factor in the travelling and the logistics of that.

“From a preparation point of view it was great, and a good experience.

“It was challenging from a coaching and management point of view because you are preparing for games in a really short period of time, which is testing physically and tactically.

“But I thoroughly enjoyed that and I feel better prepared after that experience.”

Cold start

United’s first competitive game of the season will be a Premiership trip to Kilmarnock on July 31, with the European campaign kicking off just four days later.

With no Premier Sports Cup to sharpen up and iron out imperfections, Ross knows the work on the training ground in the coming weeks will be pivotal as they seek to hit the ground running.

(R to L) Ross chatted to Kevin Nolan and ex-Dundee skipper Charlie Adam as United shared training facilities with West Ham

That is more testing, given United’s sparse numbers — they are the only side in the Premiership yet to make a summer signing — but Ross is embracing the challenge.

“You need to find a way to solve that problem,” continued Ross. “We might have to condense a lot of information into a short period of time.

“But we have already started that, so that the foundation of players here will have a grip on what we expect.

“That should help the ones coming into the group, too.

“In terms of the competitive side of things, again, I had something similar at Hibs last season. We had a couple of European games before our first league match, but we were fairly cold.

“There are pros and cons to it. I’m sure a few of the teams involved in the Premier Sports Cup would like a longer period before their competitive games start.”

Friendlies anything but meaningless

Ross does concede, however, that it will place added onus on their pre-season schedule.

He added: “What it means is: we’ll use our last couple of pre-season friendlies against Sunderland (July 16) and Fleetwood (July 23) as meaningful games. Those should get us ready for the league matches.”

Tony Asghar spells out Dundee United ‘game changer’ ahead of European return

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