Josh Doig on his Hibs breakthrough and taking inspiration from Hearts pal Aaron Hickey

Easter Road teenager came through youth ranks at Tynecastle club

LIVINGSTON, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 08: Josh Doig in action for Hibernian during a Scottish Premiership match between Livingston and Hibernian at the Tony Macaroni Arena, on August 08, 2020, in Livingston, Scotland. (Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

Scotland’s burgeoning pool of left-back talent should never be considered a curse but it certainly could be construed as an ongoing conundrum for those charged with selecting sides.

Already blessed with Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney at the top level, the future looks just as bright with teenagers like Aaron Hickey and, now, Josh Doig making an impact.

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But, although he has already made the switch from centre-back to left-back, Doig just smiles at the notion that he could help spread the talent about by switching to the other wing.

“I had the big swinger against Celtic which came as a shock to everyone,” the Hibs youngster says of his right-footed goal against the defending champions in the pre-season game which prompted manager Jack Ross to reveal he was part of his plans for the campaign opener.

“My right foot is all right but I try not to move the ball on to it too much. If I do, I just shut my eyes and do the best I can!”

That attitude of making the most of every opportunity has been evident in his fledgling Premiership appearances and although that comes from within, he has been emboldened by sage advice from his boss Jack Ross and assistant John Potter.

“The gaffer and Potts have been brilliant. They tell us not to be afraid because you don’t get into a team by playing safe.

“There’s no point going into the big games and playing within yourself. You can’t be scared to make a mistake, just play your game and don’t worry about it.”

Doig only turned 18 in May but like his pal Hickey, across the city, he is rendering his age irrelevant with the standard of performance in the first four first team matches.

Part of a defence that has been well-organised and defiant, and has, thus far, not conceded through open play, he has also been an attacking asset, showing great endurance and pace as he bombs up and down the left flank, linking up with the men ahead of him and firing in crosses.

“Coming into pre-season I was with the reserve group and I knew I had to get my head down and work hard if I was going to get a chance with the first team.

“I gave 100 per cent effort in training and then did the same when the games came round and I think I’ve done pretty well and luckily got into the first team.”

On current form he looks likely to stay there. That means a longer spell on the bench for stalwart Lewis Stevenson but Doig insists there is no resentment, in fact, he says the veteran has played a pivotal role in preparing him for every game.

“Before training and games he always comes up to me and tells me all about the opposition I will face. I couldn’t ask for a better role model.

“Everything he does is 100 per cent effort. He is a great guy too – in life you should look up to someone like Lewy. There’s so much advice he has given me. It’s literally every week. So many tips on the opponents. He’s just been brilliant.”

Had things worked out differently, Doig may not have been at Hibs. A Hearts supporter as a kid – “Coming to Hibs has changed that a bit,” he says – he joined the Gorgie club’s youth set up aged seven.

“I came up through the academy and I have to appreciate what they did for me. In the end it came to contract time and I didn’t get offered one. People have their opinions of me and I respect that. But it’s worked out best for me. I have no complaints there.”

At the time he was “kind of lanky and not as mobile as I am now” and he was playing centre-back so not in direct competition with Hickey, who he says he is “pally with”.

“I grew up with him at Hearts from a young age. I got on really well with him, he was always a good guy. We are in touch to this day. He always congratulates me and vice versa.”

He has also been an inspiration to Doig.

“He is a season ahead of me and I thought he did brilliant last year. I watched him a few times, in the derbies especially. You need to be composed on the ball and he’s got that. You might be young but you can’t let that affect you. Play your own game and don’t let the age gap become a factor and get in the way.”

While not in the same league this season, Doig could face his former club in a Scottish Cup semi-final derby. If he does, there will be no split loyalties.

“After being at Hearts for so long I was a bit down for the first week. But my mum and dad were brilliant with me. They had a belief that I could find a club and go full-time.

“I picked myself back up and worked hard. I had to work out in the gym because I have a slim build. And I took a growth spurt as well. But, if you have the right mindset, no matter what age you are, you will eventually find your place.”

At the moment, the teenager certainly looks at home at Hibs and in the Premiership.


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