Ross County plays an important role in Jackson Irvine’s football highlights, which is why he has a soft spot for the Highlands and wants them to prevent relegation.
Saturday, March 13, 2021, 7:00 a.m.
Updated March 13, 2021 at 12:06 p.m.
But when it comes to earning the points needed to do this, he hopes they’ll wait at least until next week to add to the balance sheet.
A win returning to Dingwall with current Hibs this afternoon would allow the third-placed Leith side to build on their advantage over rivals Aberdeen and enter the final pre-split game a healthy six points behind.
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After two losses, a win would also help build faith as they tackle the last six league games and leave Irvine no room for sentimentality.
“/>Jackson Irvine has fond memories of his time in Ross County but is now focused on securing Hibs third place in the league. Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group
“Of course I would like to see you stay up, yes! But let them save their results for after the breakup! We’ll win on Saturday. “
In County Irvine was able to get a lasting impression of first-team football, which went north on loan after a promising youth career with Celtic.
Eventually, he was permanently signed and made history as a member of the team that earned the club’s first major silver and defeated Hibs to win the 2015-16 League Cup final.
“This is probably the high point of my career domestically,” says the 28-year-old Australian. “The real highlight is playing in the World Cup, but in terms of the club’s achievements, winning a trophy and the way we managed to even make it to the final itself, through a derby, then Beating Celtic and then scoring a goal in the last minute of a final, all the way, it would be better than having a better moment.
“It was of course special to be part of a club that won its first big trophy and it will be a lifelong memory.”
If you call the 2018 World Cup with Australia the overall career high, the source of this success can even be traced back to his time in Victoria Park.
“Yes, that pushed me into the national team. During my time in Ross County, I still played mostly with the under-23s. But I got a call on the full site before moving to Burton in the championship this summer.
“I’ve been very lucky since the end of that summer window in 2016, I’ve been like that on every Australian squad [his form at Ross County] was exactly what made me want my career and play at the level that I was. “
And everything was played against a breathtaking backdrop.
“All the time I’ve been in the south and here, I keep telling people that the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland are the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. I was very lucky to live up there and experience it all.
“It was very different, even from Glasgow. I remember a phone call from [Ross County owner] Roy MacGregor. I think Derek Adams had just lost his job and Jim McIntyre hadn’t been appointed yet.
“There was no manager and they were bottom of the table with seven or eight losses in their first nine games when I got the call for loan. It was a tough football decision and I made lifestyle adjustments too.
“But it was the best I’ve ever done. I look back on those decisions and those moments that led to my loan and final signing this summer, and I am so grateful for the experience the club has had.
“At my age it was first-team football in the top division [was the attraction]. At the time, loan moves made it difficult to get one into the top leagues. But I knew that at that age I had to play regularly and I knew that I could be a part of something and build success.
“Of course, after the first season on loan and the signing in the summer, the aim was to increase this ambition. We kept most of that squad together from the end of the previous season. It was then a matter of moving on. “
This is the strategy Hibs want to emulate after tying many of their first teams over the summer. However, goalkeeper Ofir Marciano has indicated he won’t stay and Irvine is the other key man who keeps his cards close to his chest.
“Look, this is a conversation you are about to have. If I build into that international hiatus, the fact that I’m not leaving with Australia will give us a bit of time to sit down.
“[When I joined in January] Hibs probably weren’t sure which player they had with me after being on the road for ten months, but I think we have a good feel for how things are going now, so I think we can start evaluating where the are Situation and we’ll see what that happens. “
But the way this season goes could be an influencing factor, with the lure of European football still a possibility until December.
“It is obviously very attractive for any player to be part of a European campaign. I’ve never had the chance.
“It depends on the here and now and we can push ourselves into this position.”
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