Hibs manager Jack Ross has hailed the strength of character shown by Kevin Nisbet as he copes with the death of his father.
It was announced earlier this week that the Hibs star chose to participate in last weekend’s Scottish Cup semi-final match Hearts just days after his dad had passed away with liver cancer.
Nisbet has battled through this situation over the last few months as his dad’s health deteriorated, putting on some stunning displays since joining Hibs from Dunfermline.
Ross is ready to provide whatever Nisbet needs of him, admitting he may not have dealt with this well at the striker’s age: “What Kevin’s went through in the last few months was a tough period with his father’s illness.
“We’ve now got the ongoing period before he is laid to rest and that will take a bit longer at the moment. That doesn’t really change my responsibility to my player as I have that in good times and in bad to make sure they’re in the best possible frame of mind.
“Certainly this week he’s been upbeat, and I don’t mean that flippantly. He’s looked ok which is encouraging. I’ve known what Kevin was going through for quite a long time and throughout that he’s continued to train properly and play at a good level.
“I’ve got 20 years on Kevin and those years teach you things. How I would have coped at his age, I don’t know. So that fact he’s been able to deal with it and still produce those performances is testament to his strength of character. I do think that in the fullness of time this is something that’ll strengthen his resolve even further.”
Ahead of last weekend’s match, Ross did have to consider whether Nisbet was able to be thrown into the Edinburgh derby. The Hibs manager was pleased with how the striker performed in this match as he explains why it could be an eye-opener for some.
“Kevin has played all season with concerns over his father’s health,” he said. “I’ve been aware of that and he and I have communicated regularly to see how he feels.
“When his father’s health deteriorated last week we had further conversations and between us, we felt as though it was the right thing for him to play. I think his performance in the game merited that decision.
“It’s been a challenging decision. He’s a very young man and to lose his father – and have to deal with the responsibilities that will follow – has been challenging. But he’s handled it and I think he will take strength from it as well. People who are in the public eye go through the same things as every other person.
“Sometimes when things like this are made public then it does make people take a step back and realise there’s always things going on in people’s lives.
“Kevin’s example is the most severe of those but I’ve now managed 200-plus games and I could tell you countless occasions where a player has had challenging things in their personal life in relation to families.
“We don’t always see that but this is maybe a reminder that these things do happen and players are affected by it.”