Hibs boss Jack Ross expects Brian Rice to be focused on football

Jack Ross expects Brian Rice, his former Falkirk coach, to relish the release from his personal issues when the pair go head-to-head at Easter Road on Wednesday.

Hamilton head coach Rice opened up about his gambling addiction on Monday after facing up to Scottish Football Association disciplinary charges due to betting in each of the past five seasons.

Hibernian head coach Ross played under Rice for three years when he was assistant manager at Falkirk and knows a game of football will be the perfect antidote to his struggles.

Ahead of the Ladbrokes Premiership encounter, Ross said: “I wouldn’t think it would affect his football preparations.

“I can’t speak for Brian. I have known him a long time, he is somebody I have always got on well with, bumped into and come across in my playing career and now coaching and management.

“But often when you have any troubles going on in your personal life or whatever it may be, football is usually a release from that part of it, whether you are a player in training or on a match day.

“I know how much he loves his football and I am sure that will be the best possible escapism from the troubles he has got at the moment.”

Hamilton hope Rice’s public declaration can be a watershed moment for Scottish football and help other players and coaches struggling with gambling problems to seek help.

But Ross, a former PFA Scotland chairman, is just concerned that Rice looks after himself first and foremost.

“We live in a world now where the admission of weaknesses and problems is more widely accepted, because the environment for people to come out and admit that is better and people are more willing to do so,” he said.

“The initial thing for Brian is obviously looking after himself and making sure he deals with the issues he has.

“If that has a knock-on effect of being supportive to other people then great, but I’m sure at the moment it’s very much about him recognising the issues and making sure he deals with them.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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