Hibs starlet Josh Doig shows why he is so sought-after in first-team return as Hibees ease past Ross County

Young left-back Josh Doig has dominated much of the narrative surrounding Hibs off the pitch in the past week, so it was refreshing that we are, once again, writing about his exploits on it.

Kyle Magennis heads Hibs into a 2-0 lead against Ross County.

The 19-year-old has been – quite rightly – left out of the Hibs team for the past two matches as speculation intensifies over his future as a posse of English clubs court his signature.

The pace of developments had, however, been irking Hibs boss Jack Ross. He wants a swifter conclusion to transfer matters so he can either reinvest in his squad or play the talented teenager, who is one of the most exciting prospects in Scottish football.

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It feels unlikely that Doig will be at Hibs much longer, but he was handed a start against Ross County in this cinch Premiership clash at Easter Road and was one of the hosts’ star men in a comprehensive 3-0 win over the Staggies.

It was a frustrating afternoon for Ross County manager Malky Mackay.

Hibs’ first-half performance, coming off the back of Thursday’s tough Europa Conference League first leg against Rijeka, was impressive as they swept aside a bedraggled County. The result puts Hibs top of the league, above Hearts and Aberdeen on goal difference.

Doig is one of those full-backs who carries potency in his forays forward. His penetration down the left, and Martin Boyle’s searing speed down the right, exposed Ross County’s back-five. With a diamond structure in midfield in front of them, Hibs were given too much space out wide to attack and double-down.

Malky Mackay’s Staggies were fortunate that they only shipped three goals – all scored in the first 33 minutes – as Hibs toyed with the idea of doing a serious number on them. A mixture of missed chances, dropped intensity levels in the second half and tactical subs ahead of next week’s trip to Croatia helped spared them. While County were better in the second half, they were rising from a low bar.

This Hibs team already has enough about it to suggest they will be bang in the reckoning for at least third place again. Set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, their midfield duo of Jake Doyle-Hayes and Joe Newell dictated the tempo, while Jamie Murphy – another one to shine here – and Boyle ran the flanks. Usual No.9 Kevin Nisbet missed out due to a dead leg, so Christian Doidge led the line and did so well. He got himself on the scoresheet and looks over his bout of Covid-19.

Josh Doig made his return to the Hibs starting XI.

Whether County are over theirs is questionable. Mackay’s squad missed a lot of pre-season due the virus ripping through the ranks and perhaps some of this performance can be put down the tumult caused by it. Nevertheless, they will need to improve if they are not to be fighting against relegation once again.

Hibs’ goals came in an 11-minute period. Boyle put them ahead on 22 minutes, his deflected effort looping into the net, and three minutes later Doig sent over the sort of cross that begs to be converted. Magennis obliged with his head from eight yards.

When Doidge glanced home a Paul McGinn cross and, led by the wasp-like Boyle, Hibs charged at County, more goals looked likely. Alas, the visitors were spared a drubbing, but Hibs are in fine fettle ahead of more testing matches.

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