Hibs: Christian Doidge speaks on missing the Euros, Martin Boyle and Kevin Nisbet partnership

Striker was eyeing Euro 2020 experience with Wales before Covid-19

Christian Doidge could get his first start of the season today at Livingston
Christian Doidge could get his first start of the season today at Livingston

A little over six years ago, Christian Doidge was combining police work with playing for Camarthen Town in the Welsh Premier League.

He had come close to packing the game in altogether in 2008. After the heartache of being released by Southampton and failing to win a youth deal at Bristol Rovers, he turned his attentions to basketball before being tempted back to football in Wales’ fourth tier.

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From then, he worked his way up the divisions in his homeland before making the step up to the English leagues and, eventually, the Scottish Premiership.

While the unassuming Welshman found the net during the Betfred Cup group stages shortly after signing a three-year deal with Hibs, he found goals harder to come by in the league.

When he finally broke his duck in some style with his first professional hat-trick in a 4-1 win at St Johnstone, it sparked a run of form that led to him being talked about as a serious contender for a place in Wales’ Euro 2020 squad.

Then disaster struck; the coronavirus pandemic shutting down football across the globe for an indefinite period. As a result, the European Championships were rescheduled for 2021 and Doidge’s national team hopes put on hold.

But the striker, having overcome disappointment in football before, is matter-of-fact about the postponement, and he hasn’t given up hope of catching Ryan Giggs’ eye before next year’s tournament.

"It’s just one of those things,” he shrugged. “I’m sure there are a lot of lads who are in the same situation as me.

"It’s now down to me to keep putting good performances in for Hibs and make sure I am close to being considered again, but that will only come from wins for Hibs and those good performances.”

Doidge will be hoping to return to the starting line-up when Hibs take on Livingston in West Lothian this afternoon, atlhough understudy Martin Boyle put in a strong showing against Kilmarnock n the opening day of the campaign last week, scoring a first-half double as Hibs ran out 2-1 winners at Easter Road.

Often seen on the wing, the Australian international was deployed as a centre-forward, partnering summer signing Kevin Nisbet in attack. The pair combined for the first goal as Doidge watched on from the bench, last season's top scorer having only returned to full training four days before the curtain-raiser.

“I’m not usually too badly affected by injuries but I came in for pre-season, did all the conditioning work, was ready to go - then at the end of one session I got a slight knock and that set me back a couple of weeks,” he explained.

“With the season coming, I tried to get back in time but was only fit enough for the bench last week. A full week of training has really helped me and I feel really fit and sharp."

Many Hibs fans are keen to see Doidge and Nisbet form a partnership in attack, and there were fleeting glimpses of positivity in the brief time they were on the park together.

"I’ve been really impressed with Kev since he’s come in. He’s looked really good - a big, strong boy, and he’s a real threat in front of goal.

“We seem to link up well, and what we’ve done in training has looked good.”

Prior to his match-winning performance last weekend, Boyle had been coy about his Hibs future. With a season left on his contract, it is uncertain if the winger will remain at the club for the 2020/21 season or whether he might be plucked away before the end of the transfer window.

But if the former Dundee man is concerned about his future, he isn't letting it affect his displays in green and white, and Doidge firmly believes the club comes first for his team-mate.

“It means a lot for Boyler to play for Hibs and he would never let speculation affect his performances. That showed last week with the two goals,” he added.

“There’s already a competition between me and him. He did fantastic last weekend, he is always a threat with his pace running in behind and he is a really good finisher as well.

“He’s a massive player for us and we’re a better team with him in the line-up. He’s perfect for me - he gets crosses into the box, has an attacking threat and does a shift defensively.

“He’s a brilliant player for us and hopefully he scores twenty goals this year.”

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