Jack Ross has leapt to the defence of Hibernian stalwarts Paul Hanlon, Ryan Porteous and Lewis Stevenson after Charlie Adam questioned whether they were good enough to supply silverware to Easter Road.
The Dundee skipper took aim at Stevenson – the only Hibs player ever to have lifted both of Scotland’s domestic cup competitions – and Scotland squad members Hanlon and Porteous after the Leith outfit crashed out to St Johnstone in the Betfred Cup semi-finals.
Former Rangers and Liverpool midfielder Adam told BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound programme: “We talk about mentality – that’s the reason they’re at Hibs. They’re good footballers but if they had a bigger mentality, they’d be at bigger clubs.
“We talk about Porteous, Hanlon, Stevenson, they’ve been there a long time but I just don’t see enough quality in there. They’re good players but are they as good as everyone thinks they are going to be? I’m not sure they are.”
But those comments drew a curt reply from Ross, who said: “If he is talking about those players and has named those players, that’s two who have been in the Scotland squad this season that Steve Clarke saw fit to be in the squad.
“And a guy who is the most-decorated player in the club’s history.
“So I’ll just let the facts speak for themselves.”
But Ross knows he and his team have a lot of making up to do after making another mess of a Hampden showdown following their Scottish Cup disappointment at the hands of Hearts back in October.
Fighting past Aberdeen to finish third in the Premiership, however, would go a long way to putting them back in the supporters’ good books.
“Supporters are entitled to be frustrated, disappointed and angry at not progressing to the cup final,” he confessed. “But you have to get to that stage of the tournament and we’ve done that twice to date in the two cup competitions I’ve been involved in.
“In terms of finishing as high up the league as we can, that’s first of all about trying to get into a position we’ve not been in as a club for a few years and then trying to develop that consistency that we need.
“Our responsibility week in, week out is to win games for the supporters at this time when they can’t be inside stadiums.
“I would never accept one success as a compensation for a failure and a disappointment.
“I just think we’re duty bound to bring them success as consistently as we can.”
But the task of bouncing back on Wednesday night could not be any tougher as they come up against rampant league leaders Rangers.
Gers boss Steven Gerrard admitted over the weekend he may have to tweak his unbeaten line-up because of the terrible state of the Easter Road pitch and Ross admits the same thought had crossed his own mind.
“I haven’t seen the pitch since the Kilmarnock game but certainly that day it wasn’t good,” he said. “We had to adjust our approach in that game at half-time so we’re aware of it and I think it is something you have to adjust to.
“Common sense dictates you have to adapt to conditions and right now our pitch isn’t in the best of conditions and that will determine how we play at times.”