JACK ROSS is adamant Scott Allan has been ‘invaluable’ during preparations for Hibernian’s Scottish Cup clash with Hearts.
The mercurial midfielder has not featured for the Hibees since a 1-0 defeat against Aberdeen in August due to an ongoing medical issue.
However, Ross has redirected Allan’s expertise by utilising him as a makeshift scout.
Indeed, the former Celtic and Dundee United man was among the sparse band of observers allowed into Tynecastle for Hearts’ opening day demolition of Dundee.
He has reported back with his findings as Hibs seek to get the better of their city rivals on Saturday.
Easter Road boss Ross said: “In this period Scott [Allan] has been out, he has been really good. He has gone and watched some games for us.
“The information he has provided has been very helpful in terms of what we put together and how we prepare for the games.
“Obviously he was complimentary and impressed by Hearts’ performance against Dundee.
“John Potter [assistant manager] was at the game at Arbroath too, so the good thing is we have had eyes on Hearts in the limited games they have had. They will have done the same to us.
“It is all about trying to cover as many bases as you can in terms of preparation, but certainly Scott’s input has been invaluable.”
And Ross reckons they will be facing a Premiership-calibre outfit at Hampden despite Hearts’ Championship status.
A division may separate the Edinburgh foes but Hearts will be able to call upon the likes of Craig Gordon, who boasts 13 major honours, Northern Ireland internationals Michael Smith and Liam Boyce, and Steven Naismith.
And Ross expects a comparable challenge to what Hibs have faced in the top-flight this term.
He continued: “Are Hearts a Premiership side in all but name? There is a common agreement in terms of valuation of Robbie’s squad, with the calibre of player he has retained from last season and those he has added to in the group that that is the case.
“I think they have shown that in the manner of their performance in the opening league game as well, so it’s not probably that different a challenge to what we face every week in the Premiership in that respect.
“We are playing against a team from the Championship but it is probably akin to the quality and level and quality of player we face week-in, week-out, so there will be no surprises in terms of the level of performance from our point of view.”